Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Turkey on Friday on a two-day visit to expand bilateral ties and inaugurate a modern corvette for the Pakistan Navy.
Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “will jointly inaugurate the third of the four MILGEM Corvette Ships for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Khaibar, at the Istanbul Shipyard,” the Pakistani foreign office said in its statement.
The inauguration of the latest MILGEM corvette “represents the deepening of defense cooperation between our two brotherly countries,” PM Sharif said on Twitter before departing for Istanbul.
PM Sharif will also hold a bilateral meeting with President Erdogan for wide-ranging discussions including bilateral relations, the regional situation, and other issues of common interest.
The Pakistani PM said that the visit would unpack the “untapped potential” of bilateral ties between the two countries that have “entered a new era of strategic partnership.”
Sharif will also interact with leaders of the Turkish business community and the president of the ECO Trade and Development Bank (ETDB). The two-day visit (November 25-26) is PM Sharis’s second official trip to Turkey since he assumed office in April this year.
The MILGEM project is based on joint collaboration and represents a significant milestone in the Pakistan-Turkey strategic partnership, according to Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs.
Pakistan signed a $1.5 billion deal with Turkey in 2018 for the acquisition of four Ada class ships with Turkish state-owned defence firm ASFAT. Under the contract that included technology transfer, two corvettes were to be constructed at Istanbul Naval Shipyard and the other two at Karachi Shipyard.
The first MILGEM-class (also known as Babur-class) warship for Pakistan Navy, named PNS Babur, was launched at the Istanbul shipyard in August 2021 and PNS Khaibar is be launched in November 2022 in Istanbul.
The MILGEM-class multipurpose corvette, named PNS Badr, was launched in the port city of Karachi in May 2022 while the fourth PNS Tariq is under construction at Karachi Shipyard.
With the induction of the latest warships, Pakistan Navy will be equipped with multipurpose corvettes and frigates that can be deployed in a range of missions including surveillance, early warning, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air warfare, and amphibious operations.
The latest warships will strengthen the country’s maritime defence and deterrence capabilities as Pakistan Navy intends to build a fleet of more than 50 vessels, including 20 major surface ships.