Pakistan to deploy Chinese warships at Gwadar, permits Russia to use sea port for exports

WION Karachi, Ashgabat Nov 26, 2016, 12.29 PM(IST)

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Pakistan is likely to purchase warships from China and Turkey for safeguarding its strategic Gwadar sea port, a report in Pakistan daily The Express Tribune stated.

The daily quoted a Pakistan Navy official as saying that the navy was considering buying the super-fast ships for its special squadron which would be deployed at the Gwadar port.

"A squadron may have four to six warships,” the official of Pakistan Navy told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of an on-going defence exhibition at Karachi.

The ships would be brought soon, the official said, adding that the role of maritime forces had increased in the country after the construction of the Gwadar seaport and increased activity under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistani defence officials are keen that the Chinese navy build up its presence in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea in order to counter India's formidable naval force.

Russia to use Gwadar port for exports: Report

Pakistan has also reportedly approved Russia's request to use the Gwadar port for its exports even as the country showed its willingness to be part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Pakistani official was quoted as saying by Pakistan daily Geo News.

"Russia also wants to join the USD 46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor to reap the maximum dividends. In addition, Russia aspires to develop strategic defence ties with Pakistan," the daily reported.

The move signals a new alignment in bilateral relations after decades of sour ties during the Cold War era.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is on two-day visit to Turkmenistan, also welcomed  Russia's decision to join CPEC, Geo News reported.

Its relations with the US deteriorated after the 2011 killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in in Abbottabad by the CIA. Relations with the US also hit a roadblock recently when US lawmakers blocked funds for the sale of eight Lockheed Martin Corporation's F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

The country is now eager to improve its ties with Russia to diversify its defence purchase options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington, experts say. 

China and Pakistan are building the nearly 3,000-km-long economic corridor which links the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province to improve connectivity between the two countries.

Sharif also announced building railways, road and fiber-optic along with the Turkmenistan-Pakistan-Afghanistan-India (TAPI) 1,680-kilometer-long gas pipeline to enhance connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.

He said that TAPI would supply 400 billion cubic feet gas to the three member states in which Pakistan's share would be three hundred billion feet of gas.