Islamabad/Karachi: Pakistan on Tuesday inducted a F-22P frigate made with Chinese assistance into its navy, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying the warship exemplified the “everlasting bond of friendship” between the two countries.
PNS Aslat was built in a shipyard in Karachi with technology transferred by China. China has delivered three more F-22P guided missile frigates to Pakistan under a 2005 contract. The Aslat is equipped with surface and surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes and an electronic warfare system. Addressing the induction ceremony, Sharif acknowledged Beijing’s assistance in building the frigate and said the two sides share time-tested relations that go back to 1950. “Construction of the F-22P Frigate at Karachi Shipyard under a transfer of technology arrangement is a testament of the everlasting bond of friendship that exists between China and Pakistan,” he said. He said he was confident that defence cooperation between the two countries will grow and serve as a source of improved peace‚ stability and security in the region. Pakistan views relations with China as “enduring, multi-dimensional and deep-rooted” and these ties form a pillar of the country’s foreign policy, he said. Sharif also referred to China’s support in developing Gwadar deep sea port, saying the facility will help open new vistas of growth and prosperity. The port will become a game changer for trade and economy of the region after the development of rail and road infrastructure, he added. Pakistan’s strategic location can only be exploited to its advantage by developing the maritime sector and a capable navy for effective defence, he said. In his address, naval chief Admiral Asif Sandila said a strong naval force is required to deal with the challenges faced by Pakistan. Pakistan does not have aggressive designs against any country and it wants to promote peace in the region, he said. (PTI)