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Modernisation of Al-Khalid tank: Ukraine to provide technical cooperation to Pakistan: envoy

Government of Ukraine will provide technical co-operation to Pakistan for the modernisation of Al-Khalid, the main battle tank of Pakistan Army, Oleh Shevchenko, Chargé d'affaires Embassy of Ukraine told the Business Recorder during an exclusive talk.

He said a joint-assembly and subsequent up-gradation of Al Khalid has a great export potential. "We will continue co-operation in developing technology for manufacturing military hardware, first of all in shape of Al-Khalid Project," Charge d'affaires maintained.

The Al-Khalid tank was jointly developed by China and Pakistan. In the late 1990s it was marketed for export as the MBT-2000. Pakistan acquired production license of the MBT. The A- Khalid is named after the legendary general of Islamic history, Khalid bin Walid (RA). First delivery of this tank was made in 2002.

The Al-Khalid is currently in service and being used by Pak Army. About 600 tanks were planned to be built by 2007.Oleh Shevchenko further said that the co-operation of both countries in defence and military technology including joint training of officers, technical experts and pilots, supply and joint development of high tech weaponry and equipment for the Army, Navy and Air Force is expanding in all areas.

According to Ukrainian statistical data, annual turnover of both the countries ranges between $170-300 million. "Low turnover is due to global financial meltdown apart from various other factors," he added. Ukraine and Pakistan have been working on the creation of the Ukraine-Pakistan Commission on Trade and Economic Co-operation as well as on the improvement of mechanism for protection of investment on both sides. In this regard, Pak-Ukraine Business Council was established.

"Ukrainian businessmen are interested to participate in the expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills and other projects in case they receive offer from Government of Pakistan," he said. Several years ago the Ukrainian investor took part in the mills respective privatisation tender, he recalled. He said that a plan of direct flight between the two countries for the facilitation of business community was under negotiation with private airliners. "We are sure, if the idea matures it will further boost the trade volume between the two countries," he said.

He said the history of bilateral relations started in the Soviet Union era when Kremlin experts, the vast majority of whom were Ukrainians, assisted in developing the key industries and national economy of Pakistan in 1960-70s. "The Steel Mills in Karachi which is largest in Pakistan and a number of powerful hydro stations like Tarbella were built during this period," he said.

To a question, he said," I think Ukraine and Pakistan have enormous potential for co-operation in energy sector, particularly in the form of thermal and hydro power projects". He said that Energy Company of Ukraine has considerable experience in construction and maintenance of power plants and was ready to share its experience with the partners.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2011