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02:20 PM, October 9, 2017
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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. (Arab news photo)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the country is expediting efforts to acquire military equipment to combat militancy from other resources as the US limits weapons sales to Islamabad.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Abbasi said: “We have major US weapons systems in our military, but we’ve also diversified. We have Chinese and European systems. Recently, for the first time we inducted Russian attack helicopters”.

After his returning from the UN General Assembly in New York in September, he clarified: “If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war, and that’s what we emphasized to all the people that we met”.

“The days of Pakistan depending on the US to meet its military and other requirements are over,” he said.

In August, the US President Donald Trump said that Islamabad be designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" and its major non-NATO ally status be revoked to force it stop from supporting terrorist groups.

The criticism came as a part of his speech outlining the new US strategy to end the 16-year war in Afghanistan and bring peace and stability in the larger South Asian region.

Last year, the US Congress stopped the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan but the move did not affect the weapons needed to combat terrorists.

Earlier this year, Pakistan purchased an unspecified number of AW139 helicopters from Italian aerospace and defence firm, Leonardo S.p.A. Four Russian-made Mi-35M attack helicopters were delivered to Islamabad in August 2017. The US media noted that the Mi-35M was the export version of the Mi-24 gunship and was particularly suited for operations in mountainous terrain.

According to media reports, Pakistan Army Aviation could acquire up to 20 Mi-35Ms in the years ahead. Islamabad is also considering the Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 attack helicopter or the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group Z-10 helicopter gunship as an alternative to the Mi-35M.

In 2016, Pakistan signed a deal for eight conventional diesel-electric submarines with China, which reportedly cost between $4 billion to $5 billion. Besides, 250 to 300 JF-17 fighter planes will also be jointly developed by China and Pakistan.

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