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Islamabad 'capable of building subs'

Pakistan has the technology for the construction of modern and sophisticated submarines and is looking for markets in Islamic countries to sell or construct submarines and other naval vessels, besides providing training, repair and maintenance facilities, the naval chief said yesterday.

Gulf News

Pakistan has the technology for the construction of modern and sophisticated submarines and is looking for markets in Islamic countries to sell or construct submarines and other naval vessels, besides providing training, repair and maintenance facilities, the naval chief said yesterday.

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are the prospective buyers as they have shown interest in the Agosta 90-B submarines and other vessels being constructed at the Pakistan Naval Dockyard in Karachi under an agreement signed with French authorities, said the Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza.

"We are exploring possibilities of selling indigenous Agosta 90-B submarines or earlier versions of subs. Over 500 Pakistan Navy personnel have been trained in France on technology involved in construction of Agosta 90-B subs, which enabled us to go for their indigenous production," said the naval chief.

Addressing a press conference after meeting high level defence delegations from Italy, Turkmenistan and some other countries at the International Defence Exhibition, IDEAS 2000, the biggest national commercial event of its kind in Pakistan at the Expo Centre in Karachi yesterday, he said the country would soon be expanding building and other facilities for naval vessels at a cost of $1.4 billion.

The first Agosta 90-B constructed at a French dockyard has already been handed over to Pakistan Navy while the second one being constructed in Pakistan and France is scheduled for delivery in Mid-2002 and the third two years later.

Answering a question on when serial production of Agosta 90-B subs would start, he said "we will go for deletion in order to reduce dependence on import of foreign spare parts. " Due to the prevailing environment in the region, Pakistan's outlay on defence is high and "expenditures can be offset by commercialising not only our defence industry, but other sectors with the Armed Forces like training and repair-maintenance facilities," the admiral said.

He stressed that the defence manufacturing sector is "a large component of our industrial base and through IDEAS 2000 this sector would explore new avenues in foreign market and make a positive contribution towards enhancing national revenue."

The chief of the naval staff was of the view that IDEAS 2000 provided an ideal venue for commercial exchange between foreign delegations, trade professionals and Pakistani defence officials and defence manufacturers from within the country and abroad.

"I hope this mega event would be of great value to all participants. The exhibition will be held every two years." He recalled that in February 1999, Pakistan Navy was the first to organise successfully Naval Defence Show in Karachi, which had lot of participation by foreign companies.

IDEAS 2000 has been beneficial for Pakistan Navy to demonstrate its capabilities, he observed. Admiral Aziz Mirza said the imposition of an embargo under Pressler Amendment in early 1990s and sanctions after the May 1998 nuclear tests, put pressure on Pakistan armed forces to go for self reliance.

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