Friday, November 19, 2004
Indo-Asian News Service
Leading US Congressman Frank Pallone has urged President George W. Bush to block the proposed arms sale to Pakistan, saying it would "contribute to increased security concerns" throughout South Asia, particularly India.
Pallone, Democrat from New Jersey and founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, termed the Pentagon's proposal to sell weapons to Pakistan as "short-sighted", adding, "Foreign military assistance to Pakistan has oftentimes been used against India."
The US Department of Defence (DoD) announced Wednesday a proposal to sell weapons to Pakistan, including eight P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft valued at up to $970 million, 2,000 TOW-2A missiles and 14 TOW-2A Fly-to-Buy missiles valued at $82 million. In his letter, Pallone said: "I urge you to re-examine the interests and priorities of the US and to take a strong position against selling arms to Pakistan both now and in the future."
"Your administration's policies with respect to military assistance and now military sales to Pakistan are contributing to increased security concerns throughout South Asia, and particularly to India." "We all agree that Pakistan has been an ally in the global war on terror, however, Pakistan has not taken steps to end terrorism in its own backyard and foreign military assistance to Pakistan has oftentimes been used against India."
In the letter, Pallone also expressed disappointment over the 'major non-NATO alliance' status that was bestowed upon Pakistan, saying "it allowed Islamabad to purchase military equipment not normally sanctioned to a country that is not under democratic rule".
"Pakistan unfortunately continues to remain under military rule and is not taking meaningful steps to return to a democracy, therefore I support democracy sanctions that would prohibit military assistance to Pakistan entirely," Pallone said. "Moreover, I feel that it is unprecedented for the Pentagon to be engaging in weapons sales with Pakistan due to its political instability."