Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said the multi-faceted cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey, in the areas of defense, foreign policy and public welfare, was touching new heights of friendship for the benefit of their people.
Addressing the launch of PNS Badr – the third ship under the framework of Turkey’s National Ship Project (MILGEM), the prime minister said the cooperation between Pakistan Navy and the Turkish defense companies would lead to further strengthening of relations between the two brotherly countries.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi and a large number of naval officers from Pakistan and Turkey attended the ceremony.
In July 2018, the Pakistan Navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four MILGEM-class ships with Turkey’s state-run defense firm ASFAT. According to the plan, two corvettes are to be built in Turkey and the next two are to be built in Pakistan, which also involves technology transfer.
Shehbaz said the launch of PNS Badr would enhance the maritime activities at the Karachi Port and Port Qasim. This would lead to the development of financial and industrial progress, the premier added.
He said the launch of the ship was a “moment of pride for the entire Pakistani nation and the naval forces of the two countries”, and appreciated the efforts of the naval chief, his team and the defense minister.
He said the government of Pakistan was committed to expanding diverse infrastructure to ensure economic connectivity in the country. PM Shehbaz stressed that cooperation with Turkey would yield positive results. He lauded Turkey for always being a great supporter of the sovereignty of Pakistan.
He said the ongoing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was set to translate regional connectivity and expressed confidence that a trilateral arrangement with the inclusion of Turkey could prove beneficial for the people of the region.
The prime minister termed Turkey and Pakistan “one nation living in two countries” and emphasized that even before the creation of Pakistan, the Muslims of the sub-continent supported the cause of their Turkish brethren.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said the defense ties between Pakistan and Turkey were witnessing the development and hoped that the time would see further collaboration for the benefit of the two sides.
The message of Turkish President Erdogan was screened on the occasion where he assured Pakistan that Turkey would provide all support needed to strengthen Pakistan’s military infrastructure.
Erdogan said the delivery of the ships, which would be able to perform all kinds of military duties from air defense to submarine defense, would be made at six-month intervals starting from August 2023.
He said Pakistan is the country with the most strategic location in South Asia. “Throughout history, this region has been the apple of the world’s eye with its ancient culture and wealth. Pakistan and its people have a special place for us.”
Erdogan also emphasized the necessity of providing all means of support to strengthen the military infrastructure of Pakistan, “whose security, stability and prosperity we consider equal to ours”. The other vessel of the project, named Kaibar, is to be launched in September in Istanbul, he said.