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Pakistan seeks F-16s from US
- India’s defence case cited

Rawalpindi, Sept. 27 (Reuters): Pakistan asked the US to provide military hardware, including F-16 fighter jets, to balance its conventional defence capability with India, officials from the two countries said today.

“India is getting (military) equipment from all over so we have to do something to improve our conventional capability,” Pakistan’s defence secretary Hamid Nawaz told reporters at the end of a US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group meeting in Rawalpindi near Islamabad.

The US undersecretary for defence Douglas Feith was also present at the talks.

The group met this week for the first time since 1997, after which it was suspended because of US concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.

The decision to revive the meeting is seen as a reward for Pakistan’s cooperation with the US-led war on terror and military action in Afghanistan since last year.

Nawaz said F-16s were part of a list that Pakistan had provided to the US.

The US halted the sale of F-16s to Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment that bars arms sales to states with nuclear programmes.

Washington said last year it would not deliver the aircraft even though Pakistan had become a close ally in its war against terrorism, and political analysts said such deliveries were unlikely because they would antagonise relations with India. But Nawaz said that if conventional military power remained un-matched between Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since independence from British rule in 1947, one side could seek to open hostilities against the other.

He said the US also understood that a war between India and Pakistan, who have massed over a million troops on their border since a bloody December attack on the Indian parliament, would jeopardise stability in the region.

Feith said the defence trade issues could be resolved through forums like the consultative group.

Benazir’s fresh bid

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has launched a fresh bid to overturn earlier rulings excluding her from contesting an October 10 general election, her lawyers said today.

The petitions were filed at the provincial Sindh High Court against earlier rulings which rejected an appeal challenging a July conviction for failing to answer corruption charges and a law barring convicted people from contesting elections.

“We have made election tribunals, returning officers and the Election Commission respondents in our petitions and pleaded the court to cancel the decisions of tribunals and allow her to take part in the elections,” Bhutto’s lawyer Farooq Naik said.

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