Sunday, 17 August 2008

Antiterrorism Aid to Upgrade Pakistan’s Aging F-16s

Written by  The New American

F-16Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. government has given Pakistan more than $10 billion in military aid to fight terrorism, despite the fact that the country has been a military dictatorship under U.S.-backed Pervez Musharraf, who now serves as president in a coalition government.

Last month the Bush administration announced that it plans to use $230 million in Pakistani aid, specifically designated by Congress for law enforcement or counterterrorism, to upgrade Pakistan’s aging F-16 attack planes.

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“Some members of Congress have greeted the proposal with dismay and anger, and may block the move,” the New York Times reported on July 24. “Lawmakers and their aides say that F-16s do not help the counterterrorism campaign and defy the administration’s urgings that Pakistan increase pressure on fighters of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in its tribal areas.”

Pakistan had bought about 40 F-16s by 1990, when the U.S. government ended all aid and military sales to Pakistan citing the regime’s secret efforts to build nuclear weapons. That prohibition has changed since 9/11, however, and in 2006 Pakistan was allowed to purchase up to 36 new F-16C/D attack planes.