Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have jointly inaugurated a corvette warship built by Turkiye for the Pakistan Navy under a strategic cooperation project between the two friendly nations.
Sharif, who along with a delegation of ministers and officials is on a two-day visit to Turkiye at the invitation of the Turkish President, during the inauguration said the launch of PNS Khyber represents the deepening of defence cooperation between the two nations, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
“It was high time that Pakistan and Turkiye transform their ties into a strategic partnership as the world was envious of the relationship between two brotherly countries,” Sharif said during the inauguration of PNS Khyber at the Istanbul shipyard.
The prime minister said the launch of the ship manifested the deep bilateral engagement between the two countries in defence cooperation.
Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said the inclusion of the warships built by ASFAT inc -- a Turkish state-owned defence contractor firm -- will be a "huge boost to our defence" and will keep the country's enemies at bay.
"Weakness invites aggression, but strength keeps your enemy at bay. So, the inclusion of the MILGEM-class ships will significantly strengthen the Pakistan Navy in a very big way," the naval chief told the official Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.
He said the new warships were “very capable platforms, equipped with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air weapon systems”.
He described the warships as a "truly collaborative military production", adding that they "will be a very good addition to our fleet, ensuring that our (territorial) waters are safe and our defence needs are met".
In response to a question about increased defence cooperation between the two nations, Niazi noted: "Both militaries are continuously exchanging knowledge and expertise. Construction and upgradation projects such as 17,000 tonne Fleet Tanker, PN-MILGEM and Agosta 90B submarines, Super Mushak trainers, UAV drones, and so on are evidence of this strong friendship and military cooperation." Under the bilateral project, Turkiye was tasked to build four corvette warships for the Pakistan Navy -- two in Istanbul and two in Karachi.
The first corvette warship for the Pakistan Navy known as PNS Babar was launched in Istanbul in August 2021 while the foundation stone for the second ship PNS Badr was laid in Karachi in May 2022, another report on the inauguration ceremony by the Dawn newspaper said.
Sharif during the inauguration informed that the fourth warship would be delivered in February 2025.
The new warships have a length of 99 metres (325 feet), a displacement capacity of 2,400 tonnes, and a speed of 29 nautical miles.
Turkiye is one of 10 countries in the world capable of designing, building, and maintaining warships with domestic resources.
Sharif on the occasion called for the need to enhance trade between Pakistan and Turkiye, making a pitch to Turkish entrepreneurs to invest in a 10,000-megawatt solar power project for Pakistan, the report said.