As part of its ongoing war against terrorism, the United States announced November 6 that it would supply Pakistan with $73 million in military aid to help Islamabad improve its border security. However, Secretary of State Colin Powell later ruled out the possibility that the United States would provide Pakistan with the F-16 fighter aircraft it has long sought.
A State Department official interviewed November 20 said the package, which will be administered by the State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, would largely consist of five Huey utility helicopters, trucks, water tankers, communications and night-vision equipment, as well as some type of fixed-wing surveillance aircraft. The equipment will be transferred to nonmilitary units deployed along Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan and along the coast of the Arabian Sea. Another U.S. government official described the package as not being militarily significant and ventured that the equipment would not anger India, a longtime rival of Pakistan.
President George W. Bush cleared the way for delivery of U.S. arms and military assistance to Pakistan on September 22 and October 27 when he waived separate sets of sanctions prohibiting such exports to Pakistan. The United States had imposed sanctions on Pakistan for its development and testing of nuclear weapons, as well as for the October 1999 military coup by which current Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf took power.
Although Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld emphasized November 6 that the United States is “interested in strengthening military-to-military ties with Pakistan and India,” Powell indicated November 11 that there were limits to what U.S. weaponry would be made available to Pakistan. Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Powell said the United States has “no plans now” to transfer F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan, even though Musharraf has requested them. Washington halted the delivery of 28 F-16 fighters to Islamabad in 1990, when U.S. legislation mandated sanctions because President George H. W. Bush could no longer certify that Pakistan did not have a “nuclear explosive device.”