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PM Shehbaz, Turkiye's Vice President jointly launch MILGEM-IV warship n Shehbaz Sharif says it is high time for Pakistan, Turkiye to enhance strategic cooperation n Calls CPEC a roaring success.

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD   -  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday lauded the leadership role of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stating that it is high time for Pakistan and Turkiye to enhance their bilateral strategic cooperation for the prosperity of the two nations.

The prime minister, addressing the launching ceremony of the fourth MILGEM Class Corvette – PNS Tariq here, said the joint venture project was an example of cooperation and support between the two brotherly countries. Earlier, the prime minister and visiting Vice President of Turkiye Cevdet Yilmaz launched the fourth MILGEM warship.

Initiated in 2018, the MILGEM project envisages the construction of four Corvettes for the Pakistan Navy – two in Pakistan and two in Turkiye. The prime minister said Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a great leader which was reflected by his “wonderful” victory in the recent poll. Therefore, the prime minister said it was high time for both countries to enhance their strategic cooperation and add more joint ventures in other fields.

The prime minister earlier attended the launching ceremony of the third Naval Corvette, PNS Khyber, in Istanbul, in November 2022. The first two Corvettes, PNS Babur and PNS Badar were launched in Istanbul and Karachi, in August 2021 and May 2022 respectively. The MILGEM project represents an enduring symbol of Pakistan-Turkiye collaboration in the maritime domain. It is a tangible step towards self-reliance and indigenization and would fulfill the critical security needs of the Pakistan Navy.

The prime minister said that Pakistan and Turkiye were tied with the commonality of faith, heritage and civilisation with both sharing perspectives on regional and global issues. Referring to the tremendous support by the people of the subcontinent during Khilafat Movement, the prime minister said the bilateral ties predated the establishment of Pakistan.

“We celebrate each others’ success stories and also stand together in the face of challenges… This is the level of our relations as we share each others’ bounties and sorrows,” he remarked. The prime minister recalled Turkish President Erdogan and Turkish First Lady’s visit to Pakistan after the floods as well as the generous contribution by the Turkish people for the flood victims of 2010 as well as last year. The prime minister said that Pakistan Navy was fully dedicated to ensuring the high-quality maritime activities.

He said following the increasing burden on Port Qasim of Karachi, Pakistan was needed to create linkages between Karachi and Gwadar ports as Gwadar was about to become a business center for the country as well as the region.

Calling the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a “roaring success” the prime minister said Pakistan and China had agreed to launch the second phase that would comprise green corridor, business corridor, special economic zones and IT corridors. He said the second phase was bound to increase the quantum of business transactions and Turkiye was a “natural partner” and reiterated his invitation for the country to join that wonderful opportunity of prosperity.

Prime Minister Shehbaz thanked Turkish President Erdogan, Naval chief, head of Karachi Shipyard and the ministry of defense production as well as the workers for their hard work and contribution to make the MILGEM project a success.

He said that following the said achievements, certain actors were trying to establish their hegemony, so it was important to strengthen our navy and maritime activity.

For this purpose, he said the government was fully geared to provide all-out resources to the Pakistan Navy to augment national security. The prime minister also announced a “gift” of Rs200 million for the experts and workers involved in the construction of the MILGEM-IV, with a view to recognize their efforts and for their encouragement. In his address, Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz condoled the loss of lives in Bajaur attack and reiterated Turkiye’s condemnation of terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations.

He said the people of Pakistan had a unique place in the hearts of Turkish people as both stood by each other throughout the centuries. He particularly mentioned the Turkish support to Pakistan after the flood and thanked Pakistan for its solidarity after the deadly earthquake hit Turkiye in the recent past.

He said considering the prevailing regional situation, the Pakistan-Turkiye defence cooperation was becoming more relevant with enhanced scope.

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