Islamabad: Pakistan`s Defence Ministry has
asked the federal cabinet to approve the purchase of conventional Chinese submarines to counter "emerging threats" that the country faces, according to a media report Wednesday.
The acquisition of the Chinese vessels will pave the
way for joint development of conventional submarines, The
Express Tribune newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying.
The Defence Ministry informed members of the cabinet
that the Pakistan Navy is facing a "critical force imbalance"
in terms of the number of submarines and ships in its fleet.
The "capability gap is widening exponentially with
the passage of time", the report said.
In view of "urgent naval requirements", the issue of
acquiring Chinese submarines was part of the talking points
for President Asif Ali Zardari`s visit to China in 2009.
The matter was also discussed during the Chinese
premier`s visit to Pakistan in 2010, the report said.
The cabinet has been told that Naval Headquarters had
pursued the purchase of submarines with Chinese authorities.
A "mutually agreed draft protocol" is to be signed
between the Pakistan Navy and the relevant Chinese department
as a first step towards the joint development of conventional