M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2004-03-19 03:00

RIYADH, 19 March 2004 — Senior Pakistani officials said yesterday that 20 Super Mashak aircraft will soon be delivered to Saudi Arabia. The twin-seater is the best light machine for aerial surveillance.

“The contract to sell these aircraft to the Kingdom was signed recently, but whether delivery will be made according to a staggered schedule or in a fleet is still unclear”, said Pakistani Ambassador Abdul Aziz Mirza.

The ambassador was commenting on remarks made by Pakistan’s Minister of State for Defense Production Maj. Habibullah Warraich that the planes were ready for delivery.

The state minister, who accompanied President Musharraf during his visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, has said the aircraft are equipped with sophisticated instruments and are meant for training including at low altitude.

Saudi and Pakistani officials discussed several issues related to defense cooperation during Musharraf’s visit. The two sides had agreed on defense purchases from Pakistan and the latest sale of aircraft comes within the framework of the talks.

“The agreement for the sale/purchase of planes has already been finalized between the two countries,” said Ambassador Aziz.

Referring to the willingness of the Kingdom to buy more defense equipment and machines from Pakistan, Warraich was quoted in the report as saying that a deal between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for the purchase of Al-Zarrar tanks and armored personnel carriers was in the pipeline.

Bilateral defense links have been boosted by a joint Saudi-Pakistani naval exercise. A surface-to-surface missile was fired from a Saudi warship during the exercise, which successfully hit the target.

Pakistan is one of the Kingdom’s largest trading partners with bilateral trade constantly on the rise.

Riyadh and Islamabad have also recently approved the financing of SR57 million to 19 companies operating in Pakistan. Pakistan government has set up a panel to revive over 3,000 sick industries that include 25 joint venture projects between Pakistan and GCC states.

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