‘PNS Aslat’ a testament of Pak-China ever-lasting friendship: PM

KARACHI: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said the construction of F-22P frigate ‘Aslat’ with China’s assistance was a testament of the everlasting bond of friendship between the two countries. The Prime Minister said Pakistan deeply valued the resolute Chinese support in all domains and expressed confidence that cooperation on defence would strengthen for improving peace and stability in the region.Addressing at the ceremony of commissioning of the country’s first indiginously-built frigate PNS Aslat at Karachi Shipyard here, the Prime Minister said Pakistan’s foreign relations with China form a pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

He said Pakistan’s strategic location could be only exploited to its advantage through development of maritime sector and a capable navy. He said Pakistan Navy was effectively defending and acting as a source of security for international trade plying off the country’s coast.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that the construction of Aslat frigate was completed within the contractual timeline.

He said bringing all four frigates into service within eight years was a remarkable achievement for a programme of this complexity and scale.

He commended the dedicated workers, engineers, technicians of Karachi and Hudong shipyards for their hard work, professionalism and dedication.

He appreciated the contribution of Ministry of Defence Production and Project Directorate at Naval Headquarters, who worked purposefully to make this programme a success.

He thanked the team of China Shipbuilding Trading Company for their support and particularly Wang Dieje, Assistant President of China Shipbuilding Trading Company for his dedication and expert handling of the construction of fourth frigate in Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government was fully cognizant of the needs of Pakistan Navy and the maritime sector and assured that the government would explore all avenues to enhance their capabilities.

He said that Pakistan and China share a close and time-tested relationship stretching back to the 1950s. He said Pakistan viewed its relationship with China as enduring, multidimensional and deep rooted.
He mentioned former Chinese president Hu Jintao who described the Pak-China friendship as “higher than the highest mountains and deeper than the deepest oceans”.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan was located at the crossroads of major civilizations and trade routes, and its geo-strategic and geo-economic importance in the present times demanded concerted efforts with regards to regional and global security.

“We are, therefore, engaged and are contributing effectively to fight the forces that are out to destabilize and destroy international order,” he said.

He appreciated the efforts of Pakistan navy in safeguarding Arabian Sea – the conduit for vital shipping lanes that are jugular veins of global economy.

He said Pakistan Navy’s efforts in combating international terrorism and piracy despite limited number of ships were commendable.

Nawaz Sharif said warships are nothing more than just a metal structure, but it is their crew that gives them heart and soul.

He asked the commissioning crew at the ship to ensure excellence and uphold these standards for others to emulate.

The Prime Minister acknowledged Chinese cooperation in development of Gwadar Deep Water Port which he said has strengthened the maritime infrastructure in Pakistan and opened new vistas of economic growth and prosperity in Baluchistan.

He expressed hope that the port would become a major game changer vis-…-vis the trade and the economy of the region when rail and road routes from Makran coast to the Western region of China through Khunjrab are developed.

Naval Chief Admiral Muhammad in his welcome speech said Pakistan’s defence policy was based on peaceful co-existence with other states. He said the country had no aggressive designs against any other country.

He said that Pakistan Navy was fully prepared to safeguard the country’s maritime interests.
He said the commissioning of indiginously-built PNS Aslat was a commitment of Pakistan Navy to augment its capabilities through self-reliance.

The Naval Chief presented a memento of PNS Aslat to the Prime Minister.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Husain and Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad were present.

Earlier, the Prime Minister reviewed the guard of honour. A contingent of Pakistan Navy presented salute to him.