WASHINGTON: The United States has defended its latest sale of military equipment to Pakistan, arguing the American weapons systems would enhance Islamabad's counter-terrorism abilities.
“This proposed sale of helicopters and weapons systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counter-terrorism operations inside the country,” US State Department Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf said at the daily briefing.
She was commenting on Washington's green light this week for provision of approximately $1 billion of arms, including Hellfire missiles and attack helicopters.
“We have a very close counter-terrorism relationship with Pakistan for a very - for very good reasons,” Harf said. Referring to the terrorist threat, the spokesperson said, “the Pakistanis have a serious problem still, and that's why we're trying to help them. This (provision of military equipment) is in our national security interest to do so."
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Earlier, the US State Department had approved Pakistan’s request for a billion dollars worth of military hardware and equipment, identifying Pakistan as a country of vital importance for US foreign policy and national interests.
Diplomatic sources told Dawn that Pakistan had submitted its request last year, stating that the weapons were needed for fighting insurgents in the country’s mountainous regions.
The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia,” the certification said.
“This proposed sale of helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia,” it added.
The agency informed US lawmakers that this proposed sale would provide Pakistan with “a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft” that it can operate at high-altitudes.
“By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan, Fata, and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces,” the certification said.