Pakistan in talks with Russia on buying air defence systems

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Islamabad, April 7 (IANS) Pakistani Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that Islamabad was in direct talks with Moscow for the procurement of sophisticated military hardware, including air defence systems, fighter jets and battle tanks.

In an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency, Kham also talked about increased cooperation with Kremlin which mirrors Pakistan’s wider geo-strategic concerns.

“Air defence system is a different kind of weapon we are interested. We are very much interested in a very wide range of the Russian weapons technology. We are in negotiations (on air defence systems) and once we conclude negotiations, we will be able to announce them,” Khan told the Russian publication.

The Defence Minister also outlined that Islamabad was interested in acquiring T-90 tanks from Moscow as part of a long-term deal rather than committing itself to a single purchase.

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“We are interested in tanks T-90 and it is not going to be a one-time purchase but it is going to be a long-term commitment,” Khan stated.

Talking about security issues in South and Central Asia, the Defence Minister noted that both Pakistan and Russia were interested in a stable and democratic Afghanistan.

“We respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty. Stability in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan to be able to develop its own prosperous future, to access to the Russian market, for example, by land route. Democratic and stable Afghanistan is in the deep the interest of both Russia and Pakistan,” the minister stated.

Historically, Pakistan and Russia have been on the opposite side of the conflict in Afghanistan, but the former Cold War foes have now developed a mutual understanding on many international issues, according to Khan.

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“Of course we have a history of the Afghan war in which we have been on opposite sides, but now as the second decade of the 21st century ends, we will be able to look at world realities with a different eye.”

The Defence Minister also expressed that Pakistan was grateful for Russian support in its bid for membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which it joined in 2017.

–IANS

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