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80 Al-Zarrar tanks handed over to army

February 27, 2004

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ISLAMABAD, Feb 26: President Pervez Musharraf handed over on Thursday 80 indigenously modernized and upgraded Al-Zarrar tanks to the Pakistan Army and 25 armoured personnel carriers (APC) to the police.

A high mobility all-weather tank with an "image stabilized fire control system" and capable of day and night operations, Al-Zarrar is an upgraded version of the T-59 tanks of Chinese origin.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony at the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), President Musharraf said Pakistan did not want to embroil itself in an arms race but would maintain a minimum level of deterrence for the country's security.

The tanks' indigenous adaptation was a cost-effective solution in the country's military development, he said. The HIT plans to manufacture hundreds of Al-Zarrar tanks for armoured formations of the army in next few years.

The president said security, integrity and solidarity of the country would never be compromised. "Pakistan is conscious of its priorities towards economic development and poverty alleviation, but within these limitations the security of nation and the integrity and solidarity of Pakistan will never be compromised," said the president.

He said today's event demonstrated maturity of our indigenized defence production capabilities and self-reliance. Pakistan remained aware of the debilitating effects of the sanctions in the past, he added. "We follow a very cost-effective and affordable solution which forms the hallmark of all our military development," he added.

Gen Musharraf said Pakistan's strategy of minimum deterrence in conventional and un-conventional fields was a very cost-effective concept. He said in conventional deterrence and also to realize the offensive nature of our defence strategy, armour plays an effective role.

"It gives an offensive punch to the army." The president said: "It is this offensive punch which will end any war on a positive note." The armour corps, he said, ought to be very proud of itself for getting the very latest tanks in the world.

In the coming years, they would be getting Al-Khalid, Al-Zarrar and T-80 UD tanks, putting them along with the best armoured forces in the world, he added. The new tanks were released only days after the army also received the indigenously developed solid fuel short range Hatf-3 missile which has a range of 290 kilometres.

President Musharraf had earlier this month announced that an intermediate range ballistic (IRBM) solid fuel missile Shaheen-2 would also be ready for testing soon. -DPA/ APP