Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved a deal “years in the making” to buy eight submarines from China, a Pakistani government official said, in what could be one of China’s largest overseas weapons sales once it is signed.
The official, who was present at meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defense which was briefed by the Navy, said the deal to buy the diesel-electric submarines would likely be signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visits, “but that is still not final”.Xi was due to travel to Pakistan in April, the government in Islamabad has said.
China has said Xi would visit this year, but given no timeframe.China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather friends” and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbor and rival, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence across the region.
“The prime minister has approved buying eight submarines from China and these would be used to bolster Pakistan’s strength,” the official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.He added that “last-minute homework is pending”.
“Some officials are traveling to China even today. Work is ongoing,” he said. “This deal is years in the making.”