Delhi: China has officially confirmed the sale of eight attack submarines, estimated at more than $5 billion, to Pakistan, as per a media report.
According to India Today, experts say that the submarines may be deployed in the Arabian Sea and challenge India's interests in the Indian Ocean region.
It is also said to be one of China's biggest-ever military deal. The weaponry of the submarines will reportedly be tailor-made for Pakistani requirements.
The media house quoted a report in a shipping industry newspaper as saying that China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation held a meeting in Beijing "to discuss details of the arrangement".
Talks for the deal were announced from Islamabad earlier this year, but Beijing was yet to confirm it.
Further, as per the report, four of the submarines are to be built at the Karachi shipyard, with the rest in China.
The China Shipbuilding Heavy Industry meeting on October 12 to confirm details of the deal was attended by its chairman Hu Wenming, China Shipbuilding newspaper reported, the media house added.
As for the delivery, the first four diesel-powered electric submarines will be delivered by 2023 and the rest by 2028.
The submarines are thought to be export variants of the PLA's Type 39A - also known as Type 41 - Yuan-Class submarines.
It is said to have a depth of 300 metres.
Hu was quoted as saying that the export of eight attack submarines was aimed at promoting China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013.
Pakistan is the fulcrum in this.
Pak-China 'all weather' ties based on shared interests: Nawaz Sharif
Yesterday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that Pakistan and China's "all-weather" relationship was based upon shared principles and interests that formed the foundation of cooperation in diverse fields.
Sharif has stated this when he met Bank of China chairman Tian Guoli who had called on him in Islamabad.
"Highlighting China's great support to Pakistan in security, trade and infrastructure development, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan and China have a shared future and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the largest comprehensive project with any foreign country," according to an official statement, as per PTI.
"CPEC is a fusion of multiple development projects, aimed at the prosperity and well-being of the citizens of the country and the region at large," it had quoted Sharif as saying.
China backs ally Pak over PM Modi's 'mothership' remark on terror
Meanwhile, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had termed Pakistan as a "mothership of terrorism", China had on October 17, staunchly defended its all-weather ally saying that was against linking any country or religion with terror and had asked the world to acknowledge Pakistan's "great sacrifices".
"We are strongly against terrorism of all forms, maintaining that terrorism should not be linked to certain country, ethnic group and religion," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had told a media briefing in Beijing while responding to questions on PM Modi's criticism against Pakistan at the BRICS Summit in Goa.
China's strong comment was in response to India's criticism that Pakistan is indulging in cross-border terrorism.
At the same time, in a balancing act, she had said in the comments posted on the Foreign Ministry website that "regardless of which country, organisation or individual that conducts terrorist activities, the international community should work in concert and deal a heavy blow to them to maintain regional peace and stability and national security and development".
China has recently extended the technical hold on India's efforts to impose a UN ban on Masood Azhar, the head of Jaish-e-Muhammad which is responsible for the January 2 Pathankot attack.
(With Agency inputs)