The decision had been agreed “in principle”, the newspaper said, citing a hearing in the Pakistani parliament‘s defence committee. Pakistani newspaper the Dawn said negotiations with China were at an advanced stage.
Pakistani defence officials could not immediately be reached for comment. China’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment.
A former senior Pakistan navy officer with knowledge of the negotiations told the Financial Times the contract could be worth $4 billion to $5 billion.
It was unclear what type of submarine Pakistan was looking to buy but China has poured resources into developing diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines in recent years.
China and Pakistan call each other “all-weather friends” and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence across the region.
China is Pakistan’s top supplier of weapons, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks global arms sales, selling 51 percent of the weapons Islamabad imported in 2010-2014.
China has also surpassed Germany to become the world’s third largest arms exporter, SIPRI said in a report last month. Little is known about China’s arms exports because the country does not publish data on such sales.