ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday said promotion of defence cooperation between Pakistan and Türkiye was for peace, not for war or aggression.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the third of the four MILGEM corvette ships, manufactured by Türkiye for the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul Shipyard, Sharif thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the people of Turkey for always standing behind Pakistan in every difficult time.
“Pakistan and Türkiye are deeply engaged in promoting our defence capabilities for peace, not for war or aggression, and as they say, if you want to live in peace, you must be prepared for war,” Shehbaz said.
“So this [MILGEM corvette ships] is not for aggression. This is for defence,” he explained, say media reports.
Shehbaz, along with President Erdogan, inaugurated the third ship named PNS Khyber, while officials from both sides also attended the ceremony.
The prime minister said it was high time the two countries transformed their ties into a strategic partnership, as the world was “envious” of their relationship.
Citing a huge potential in the field of alternative energy in both countries, he called for Turkey and Pakistan to join hands for production of solar, wind and hydel energy to cut carbon emissions and open up new avenues of investment cooperation.
On his arrival at the venue, the Turkish president welcomed the prime minister who was accompanied by a high-level delegation. The prime minister was given a guard of honour as the national anthems of both the countries were played.
The MILGEM project, based on joint collaboration between the two countries, represents a significant milestone in the Pakistan-Türkiye strategic partnership that continues to progress on an upward trajectory.
The launching ceremony for the first Corvette for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Babur, was performed in Istanbul in August 2021 while the groundbreaking for the second sShip, PNS Badr, was held at Karachi in May 2022.
Calling Turkiye his second home, the prime minister recalled the support extended by the people of Pakistan at the time when Turkiye was fighting for freedom.
He said while supporting the Turkish people, our forefathers never knew that Turkey would stand by Pakistan through thick and thin and all international platforms instead, they had done so out of their religious brotherhood.
Appreciating the “visionary leadership” of President Erdogan, the prime minister said he had transformed Turkiye into a modern society. He also spoke highly of the social welfare projects executed by the Turkish government even in far-flung areas besides transforming the agriculture and industrial sectors. The prime minister also urged the defence experts from both sides to enhance their defence production capacity with a view to strengthening cooperation for peace in the region.
He appreciated the role of President Erdogan in brokering a deal between Russia and Ukraine for wheat export for the benefit of developing countries like Pakistan. He told the gathering that Pakistan was recently hit by one of the most devastating floods and within no time, Turkiye sent 13 goods trains carrying 72,000 tons of humanitarian goods and 15 military aircraft carrying food, tents, medicines and medical teams.
In his address, Turkish President Erdogan said Turkiye had achieved great things in the field of defence cooperation.
He told the gathering that four corvettes were being produced under MILGEM project – two locally and two in Pakistan. The final ship will be delivered in February 2025, he added. The Turkish president said his government would carry Turkiye to first place in the world’s defence industry super league as the country was expanding its domestic naval and air military projects. In 2023, Turkiye’s new homegrown drone and fighter jet will be launched, he added.
Earlier, Pakistan Minister for Defence Production Israr Tareen said the launch of the third MILGEM manifested brotherhood and strong defence collaboration.
He appreciated the Turkish Navy and Istanbul Shipyard for ensuring the project’s completion within the time-frame.
He told the audience that Pakistan was blessed with immense resources and ongoing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was set to enhance regional connectivity and maximise trade with Gwadar Port being the focal point.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said the presence of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signified the importance of the close relations between the two countries.
He said Pakistan and Turkiye enjoyed long-lasting and deep-rooted ties resting firmly on trust and support based on the principles.
He said the induction of MILGEM ship would strengthen the Pakistan Navy and acknowledged the commitment by the Turkish ministry of defence and the Turkish Navy for completing the project timely.
Addressing a joint press conference flanked by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his condolences over the martyrdom of Turkish citizens at the hands of terrorists. He maintained that Pakistan stood by the people of Turkiye and “brother Tayyip Erdogan” in this hour of grief.
“We have also gone through these tragedies. The people of Pakistan have also paid a huge price — very valuable lives — thousands of people laid their lives to defeat terrorism. So we can fully understand the feelings of brother President Tayyip Erdogan and the people of Turkiye.”
“We would like to offer whatever we have and join hands to beat terrorism of all shade and colours and wipe them out from not only the face of Turkiye and Pakistan but from the face of earth.” Pakistan and Turkiye are on the same page against terrorism, he added.
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