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Pak purchased weapons worth US $ 4.5 bn in 2005-08

Source: PTI
September 17, 2009 12:51 IST
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Pakistan placed its largest-ever arms purchase orders worth US $ 4.5 billion with America between 2005 and 2008 and its weapons shopping list included more F-16 fighters and over a hundred 155 mm artillery guns, a latest US Congressional report has said.

The orders included 36 latest block 50/52 F-16C jets and their air-to-air missiles and bombs worth a whopping US $ 640 million.

The arms deal also provided for mid-life modification of its earlier F-16 A/B fighters.

Under the arms deal, Islamabad also sought 115 M109A5 155 mm self-propelled howitzers worth US $ 52 million -- the guns it did not have during the Kargil conflict in 1999.

According to the report titled 'US Arms Sales to Pakistan' , the major arms purchase agreement by Pakistan signed in 2006 exceeded by US $ 3.5 billion, ranking Pakistan first among all arms clients of the US during that calendar year.

The report informs the US lawmakers that America can suspend or terminate any arms sales agreement with Pakistan or the delivery of weapons previously ordered, if the US president determines that the action taken by Islamabad are against the national security interests of the United States.

'The Congress can also pass legislation that would suspend, modify, or terminate any arms sale contract should it choose to do so,' said the report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a bipartisan and independent research wing of the US Congress, which prepares reports on various issues for Congressmen.

According to the report dated August 24, the deal has been cleared with stiff conditions, which include that if the US government chooses it can stop the transfer of defence articles and services to Pakistan for which valid contracts exist.

This clause can be applied without finding if the arms deal is in violation of an applicable agreement with the US relating to permissible uses of weapons previously sold.

The authority for suspension of deliveries or defence items or cancellation of military sales contracts is found in various sections of the Arms Export Control.

'All government-to-government agreements or licensed commercial contracts for the transfer of defence articles or services may be halted, modified or terminated by the executive branch should it determine that it is advisable to do so,' the report said.

The total value of Pakistan's 2006 arms purchases from the US nearly matches the total value of all foreign military sales programme purchases by Pakistan from the US for the entire period from 1950 to 2001.

When the Bush administration signed the contract in 2006 for sale of 36 aircraft and associated equipment, it cited, 'Given its geostrategic location and partnership in the Global War on Terrorism, Pakistan is a vital ally of the US... This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of America by helping an ally meet its legitimate defense requirements.'

However, the report said apart from the major 2006 F-16 sales and related equipment, no additional major weapon systems have been sold to Pakistan.

Image: A Pakistani soldier at a national exercise in March 2009| Photograph: Athar Hussain/ Reuters

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