ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a ceremony to launch the combat ship PNS Khyber.—Twitter / @Marriyum_A
ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a ceremony to launch the combat ship PNS Khyber.—Twitter / @Marriyum_A

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has stressed the need for joint investment by Pakistan and Turkiye to promote renewable energy and cut dependence on traditional energy sources that contribute to carbon emissions.

The prime minister, who is on a two-day official visit to Turkiye, made these remarks during the inauguration ceremony of the Milgem Corvette ship for the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul Shipyard.

“Pakistan wants to shift to renewable sources of energy and Turkish investors have a great potential to finance this shift,” the prime minister said.

“I want to propose… 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,” the PM said while lamenting Pakistan’s rising import bill due to petroleum products.

Seeks ‘strategic partnership’ between two nations; says investment relations do not reflect ‘fraternal’ bond

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, in July-October FY23, Pakistan’s total oil imports — including furnace oil to produce electricity — stood at $6.05bn. At a time when growth in imports is outpacing exports, the whopping oil import bill is causing a severe strain on the government’s coffers.

The prime minister said it made “great sense” to promote investments between the two countries in solar, hydel and wind energies.

“I think it’s high time we transform our relations into something because the world is envious of our relations and our brotherhood,” he added.

“They [the world] say that 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.”

The move will turn the fraternal and trade relations into a strategic partnership between the two countries, he said.

PM Shehbaz added the two countries, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have a “great chance” to move forward in this field.

Regarding the ship’s launch, the prime minister said Turkiye and Pakistan were engaged in promoting defence capabilities “for peace and ward off aggression”.

He said the ship’s launch was for defence purposes instead of any aggression.

Talking about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the premier said the war has created “multifarious problems” for global societies and appreciated the Turkish president’s efforts for peace and brokering the wheat shipment deal.

In July, Kyiv and Moscow reached a landmark agreement with Turkiye and the UN to allow Ukraine – one of the world’s top wheat exporters – to send the grain through the Black Sea amid fears of a global food crisis. Last week, the deal was extended for another 120 days.

During his address, the PM appreciated Turkiye’s aid and help after the recent catastrophic floods.

Earlier, PM Shehbaz was received by the Istanbul deputy governor and senior Turkish officials upon arriving at Istanbul airport.

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

According to a Foreign Office (FO) statement, during the two-day visit, PM Shehbaz will interact with Turkish business leaders and also meet the president of the ECO Trade and Development Bank.

Afterwards, PM Shehbaz and President Erdogan will hold discussions on bilateral relations, regional situation and other issues of common interest, the statement added.

Prior to his departure, the prime minister, in a tweet, said the inauguration of the third Milgem Corvette ship – PNS Khaibar – represented the deepening defence cooperation between the Turkiye and Pakistan.

“High-level exchanges are a defining feature of our partnership,” he said, adding the ties have entered a new era of strategic partnership under the leadership of President Erdogan.

The PM went on to say that the exchanges during the visit will be a “defining feature” of the partnership between the two countries.

The Milgem project

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

According to the FO, the launching ceremony for the first Corvette, PNS Babur, was performed in August 2021 while the groundbreaking for the second ship, PNS Badr, was held in Karachi in May 2022.

“The project represents a significant milestone in the Pakistan-Turkiye strategic partnership that continues to progress on an upward trajectory,” the FO said.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022

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