After F-16s, US to give attack choppers to Pakistan

WASHINGTON (TIP): The Obama administration on Monday awarded a $170 million contract to Bell Helicopter of Texas to manufacture and deliver nine AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan, continuing the US policy of arming a country that many of its lawmakers say is two-faced about fighting terrorism.

The American reward for Pakistan came even as Islamabad continued to protect Masood Azhar, leader of the terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, with Chinese support, while subverting New Delhi’s efforts to bring to justice Pakistani perpetrators of terrorists attacks in India.

Pakistani charges that India is staging terrorist attacks on itself to malign Islamabad evoked little interest in Washington, as the Pentagon signed off yet another consignment of lethal arms to the country that claims it is also a victim of terrorism, even as it continues to foster terrorist groups and protect leaders of such outfits.

Part of the US policy of continuing to arm Pakistan amid pious lectures about military doctrines and arms race has to do with the nature of the bloated US arms industry itself that feeds off such foreign military sales for profit and for creating local US jobs. The Pentagon notification disclosed that the contract for the helicopters and nine auxiliary fuel kits would be performed in Fort Worth and Amarillo in Texas.

As with Bell’s attack helicopters, the eight F-16s US has announced for Pakistan will also be manufactured in Fort Worth, Texas, ensuring that it has support of local lawmakers who are more concerned about the economy and jobs, even if they are wellinclined towards India. Both contracts are part of a $950 million arms package.

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In fact, as per that notification, Pakistan had requested a possible sale of 15 AH-1Z Vipers, but the Obama administration appears to have signed off on only nine. Islamabad also has no money to pay for any of the arms it asks for, and they are usually supplied under concessional foreign military sales agreements.

Regional experts surmise that all these piecemeal supplies to Pakistan is aimed at keeping the country’s tin-pot generals happy while ensuring access and cooperation on the Afghan front, even at the risk of offending India.

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