, ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan leaders kept pressing for more weapons systems from the US to establish “conventional deterrence” against India, the Bush administration has reportedly approved the sale of 60 attack helicopters to Pakistan ostensibly for use in operations against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The helicopters include Cobra gunships, to help Pakistan fight the remaining Taliban and al-Qaeda activists hiding in its tribal areas, local daily Dawn reported on Saturday quoting officials in Washington.
Pakistan hoped that the helicopters will be delivered by December and “differences” over the US request for Pakistani troops for Iraq will not delay their delivery, the report said.
The decision by Washington to supply helicopters came as President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali made the supply of arms to match the modernisation of Indian forces their main theme during their tours to the US.
While Musharraf focussed on the need for Pakistan establishing “conventional deterrence” during his recent meeting with President George Bush, Jamali, who is currently touring Washington has made it a recurring theme.
Pakistan has so far hinted that the US has agreed to refurbish its fleet of 28 old F-16 planes and permit the sale of 12 more used F-16s from Belgium.