ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Defence told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that eight submarines were being purchased from China to address force imbalance with India.

“The National Security Committee has approved, in principle, the acquisition of eight Chinese submarines,” Additional Secretary of the ministry Rear Admiral Mukhtar Khan informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence.

Negotiations with China on the financial aspect of the purchase were in an advanced stage, he said.

Pakistan has been negotiating the purchase of submarines from China since 2011.

No details were given about the type of submarines.

However, there have been reports that Yuan-class Type-041 diesel-electric submarines were being considered.

Purchase of eight such submarines may cost up to $8-10 billion, defence analysts say.

Pakistan’s submarine fleet comprises five Agostas — two Agosta70 and three Agosta90B — and three MG110 miniature submarines (SSI).

One of Agosta90B — Hamza (Khalid Class) — was indigenously constructed and commissioned in 2008 and another was partially completed here.

The third was built in France.

The navy has been pursuing different options for buying more submarines in view of the Indian move to expand its fleet.

In 2004 Pakistan had expressed interest in buying German Type 214 diesel-electric submarines. But the deal could not materialise due to opposition in Germany to the sale of submarines to Pakistan.

Later, negotiations were held with France for acquiring Scorpène-class submarines.

The NA committee was told that France had refused to sell the submarines to Pakistan because of various reasons — one of them being that India was buying the same submarines.

The Agosta submarine scandal of 1994 was another reason.

The committee was also informed that the ministry had approved an allocation of $294 million for the purchase and up-gradation of ATR aircraft for the navy.

The National Security Committee is yet to approve the ATR purchase and up-gradation project.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2015

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