Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday invited Turkiye to join hands in investment in renewable energy production and reduce dependence on traditional sources, as the third of four Milgem-class corvettes (PNS Khaibar) was inaugurated at a shipyard in Istanbul.

Addressing a ceremony, the prime minister lamented the rising import bill because of petroleum products. Pakistan wanted to shift to renewable sources of energy — solar, hydel and wind — and Turkish investors had great potential for financing these fields, he stressed.

Shehbaz is on a two-day visit to Turkey on the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I want to propose … that let’s join hands together and get rid of high-carbon emissions, cut our import bills and let’s really promote investment in these fields,” Shehbaz noted.

The prime minister said solar, hydel and wind energy would make “great sense” for promoting investments between the two countries.

“I think it’s high time we transform our relations into something because the world is envious of our relation and our brotherhood but they also say that while ‘these two countries are great and their hearts beat together’ … but they also say that our trade and investment relations are not commensurate with our historical relations and brotherhood.”

About the war ship, Shehbaz said Turkey and Pakistan were “deeply engaged” in promoting their defence capabilities for peace to ward off aggression. The ship’s launch was for defence purposes instead of any aggression, he added.

The prime minister called on Turkey to further collaborate on their defence production capacities to ensure that peace was restored in the world, adding that the globe was facing “great tensions”.

Shehbaz said the Russia-Ukraine conflict had created multifarious problems for global societies and appreciated Erdogan’s efforts for peace and brokering the wheat shipment deal.

He also appreciated Turkey’s aid and help to Pakistan after the recent catastrophic floods in the country.

During the visit, Shehbaz will also interact with leaders of the Turkish business community and meet the president of the ECO Trade and Development Bank during his stay in the country’s urban centre, Istanbul.

Later, Shehbaz and Erdogan will hold wide-ranging discussions on bilateral relations, the regional situation and other issues of common interest.

Earlier, the prime minister was received by the Istanbul deputy governor and other senior officials of the Turkish government upon arriving at Istanbul airport.

In a tweet shortly after the premier landed, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Shehbaz was “determined to tap the enormous potential” between the two countries.

The Milgem project

The Milgem project — based on a joint collaboration between Turkiye and Pakistan — was signed with ASFAT Inc, a Turkish state-owned defence contractor firm in 2018, according to which the Pakistan Navy would acquire four Milgem-class ships from Turkey.

Milgem vessels are 99 metres long, have a displacement capacity of 2,400 tons and have a speed of 29 nautical miles. These anti-submarine combat corvettes, which can be hidden from the radar, would further enhance the defence capability of the Pakistan Navy.

The launching ceremony for the first corvette for the Pakistan Navy, PNS Babur, was performed in Istanbul in August 2021, while the groundbreaking for the second ship, PNS Badr, was held in Karachi in May 2022.

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