ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force on Thursday briefed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the Chinese assistance for its modernisation project during his visit to PAF headquarters.

The briefing took place ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s trip to China from Feb 3 to 5 during which the two sides are expected to review the entire gamut of ties and bilateral cooperation in various sectors, including defence.

The PAF’s media division said in a statement that Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu briefed Mr Qureshi.

“In the context of forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Foreign Minister to China, Chief of the Air Staff shared the PAF modernisation programme through smart inductions and collaboration in the domain of cutting edge niche technologies with Pakistan’s time-tested friend China,” the statement said.

“Collaboration between the two neighbouring countries in other domains also came under discussion,” it added.

Pakistan’s cooperation with China for meeting the needs of its armed forces has grown over the years because of the political and economic proximity between the two countries. The JF-17 fighter aircraft was jointly produced by them.

The military earlier this month confirmed the long-speculated deal with China for the supply of J-10C jets.

The military said that the acquisition was being done in view of the regional security matrix that required Pakistan’s armed forces to continuously upgrade their capacity.

However, the number of aircraft Pakistan planned to buy and the cost at which they were being purchased have so far not been disclosed. It is widely believed that Pakistan plans to buy at least 25 J-10C jets.

Many think the J-10C deal is Pakistan’s answer to Rafales bought by India from France.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had told journalists last month that J-10C jets would participate in the March 23 parade.

Mr Qureshi, during his visit to the PAF hea­d­quarters, praised PAF’s professionalism and assured full support of the government for its modernisation as a next generation air force.

“Matters pertaining to evolving geopolitical/ geostrategic environment and regional security were discussed during the meeting,” the PAF further said.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2022

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