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KARACHI, July 3: Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali declared here on Thursday that the Indian prime minister’s visit to China would not have a negative effect on the Pakistan-China relationship.

He was speaking at the rollout ceremony of 10,000th Chinese engine production at 102 Air engineering depot at the PAF’s Faisal Base.

He described the rollout of the Chinese engine as a landmark in indigenization of the country’s defence capability.

Mr Jamali said economic ties between New Delhi and Beijing would not affect Pakistan’s friendship with China which was based on principles and had stood the test of time.

Recalling his visit to China and interaction with its new leadership, the prime minister said he was confident that friendship with China, which was the mainstay of Pakistan’s defence capability during sanctions, would grow to new heights in the future.

China could have economic ties with its neighbours but as far as friendship with Pakistan was concerned, it would last millions of hours ahead, Mr Jamali said.

He emphasized the need for specialization to compete in the rapidly changing world and assured his government’s full support in meeting the country’s defence requirements.

“Unless we improve and specialize we will not be able to compete,” he said, adding that Pakistan had lagged behind in this regard.

“We will have to make sure that we give extra mileage to Pakistan to raise its image in the comity of nations,” he said.

Amid growing polarization between religious parties and the ruling party, Mr Jamali also called for maintaining a balance between religion and worldly matters. The government was trying to strike such a balance, and Mr Jamali mentioned the efforts of Gen Pervez Musharraf in this regard.

The prime minister appreciated the pivotal role of the PAF in the country’s defence.

Earlier, air officer commanding Southern Air Command AVM Shahzad Ahmad Chaudhri gave an overview of the indigenization programme and technological capability of the PAF, and said overhaul of the newly inducted F-7 aircraft would also soon be undertaken.

Commenting on efforts at self-reliance, he said: “Owing to peculiar geo-strategic situations, it has remained an unavoidable compulsion to acquire equipment from various sources across the globe.

However, this diversification among other things posted technical challenges that have to be successfully negotiated by the PAF.”

Base Commander Air Commodore Qadeer Ahmad Hashmi gave a historical evolution of the facility at the Faisal Base (old Drigh Road base of the RAF).

After the ceremony, the prime minister toured the facility, accompanied by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Ali Muhammad Mahar, City Nazim Niamatullah Khan and senior officials. Representatives of the Chinese firm which had collaborated in the project were also present during the ceremony.