| GEO Pakistan|
| Pak not to join maritime arms race: Admiral|
| Updated at: 2257 PST, Tuesday, July 28, 2009|
BEIJING: India’s launch of its first indigenously-made nuclear submarine is a “disturbing factor” for Indian Ocean’s security, Admiral Noman Bashir, Pakistan’s chief of naval staff, said in Beijing on Tuesday.
Bashir, who is in China to witness the commissioning of the first China-made frigate for Islamabad, also said Pakistan would not join in the maritime “arms race”.
“We knew about it (India’s nuclear marine plan) a longtime ago,” Bashir said. “A nuclear submarine could be a disturbing factor” as it would “jeopardize the security” of the Indian Ocean.
The Pakistani naval head said the Indian Ocean is the most important one in the world.
India on Sunday launched ‘INS-Arihant’ (Destroyer of the enemy), the first nuclear-powered submarine built on its soil, joining just five other countries that can design and construct such vessels.
Despite of calling the move as “a matter of concern”, Bashir, however, didn’t consider the neighboring country’s military leap-forward as a major security threat for Islamabad’s own navy.
Instead, he said his navy’s key jobs would be combating terrorism, piracy, and other illegal uses of the sea as drug trafficking, and protecting the sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean.
“We are not focused on India. India is a neighbor, so we must have good relationship (with it),” Bashir said, while suggesting both countries continue dialogues to improve ties.
Bashir made the remarks only hours late after Pakistan Foreign Office expressed concern over India’s introduction of the nuclear submarine, according to media report.
Saying the INS-Arihant could trigger off an arms race in South Asia, the Pakistan Foreign Office has said that such a step would destabilize the region and would have a detrimental effect on regional peace.
“Continued induction of new lethal weapon systems by India is detrimental to regional peace and stability,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said. Basit said Pakistan would take all measures to ensure strategic balance in the region.
“Without entering into an arms race with India, Pakistan will take all appropriate steps to safeguard its security and maintain strategic balance in South Asia,” Basit said.
After visiting Beijing, Bashir is due to attend the commissioning ceremony of the first of the four F-22P frigates in Shanghai on July 30.
The vessels were ordered by the Pakistani navy from China four years ago.
The deal marks the navy’s first purchase of a major fighting unit from China. In the past, it procured such military hardware from Western countries including Britain and France.
Bashir said the commissioning of the F-22p frigates would mark “a big step forward” for the cooperation between the Chinese navy and its Pakistani counterpart.
“They will contribute for the security of the Indian Ocean,” Bashir commented on the prospective role of the China-made frigates.
He also said his country would “look beyond the F-22p”, in hoping for more cooperation with China, whose military industry is of “high quality”.