Pakistan wants to maintain a defence deterrence capability against India with no wish to compete with its neighbour or match it, according to Ambassador Jehangir Karamat.
Karamat told a group of locally-based Pakistani journalists, with whom he now meets once every month for a general briefing session, that Pakistan had never objected to any weapons and weapon systems that India had tried to acquire, whereas India always objected to Pakistan seeking what it required for its defence, such as the F-16 aircraft that were already in service with the Pakistan Air Force. He confirmed that out of the 27 twin-engine Bell Helicopters that Pakistan had sought for anti-terrorism operations, it had already received delivery of 24 of them. Pakistan was also waiting for the delivery of eight P-3C Orion aircraft and TOW missiles.
He said Washington, which had bilateral relations with both India and Pakistan, should make a judgment as to which defence systems or weapons could trigger an imbalance in the region. He pointed out that India planned to spend $95 billion over the next 15 years on military purchases and was interested in acquiring Mirage 2000-9 aircraft and high-performance versions of Soviet-made SU aircraft.
The ambassador answered questions about the Baghliar dam issue and reiterated Pakistan’s stated position on the question. He said Baghliar was not being allowed to interfere with the ongoing dialogue between the two countries because it involved a “specific” agreement, namely the Indus Waters Treaty. He spoke of his meetings with World Bank officials, informing the journalists that Pakistan had provided all necessary documentation to the Bank and India, he understood, had been asked to submit a reply to the Bank by February 22.
He said Pakistan had tried hard to resolve the dispute bilaterally but had met no success, hence the resort to the World Bank, as provided for under the Treaty. Pakistan’s objections to Baghliar related to “water storage capacity, height and gate design”. Pakistan believed India was building the dam in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty.
Karamat informed said a congressional delegation would soon proceed to the region and visit Pakistan. The group would include Senator Hillary Clinton. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was expected to accompany the delegation, though apparently not as a member.
The ambassador said he was continuing his meetings on Capitol Hill and besides others had met Sen Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island), chairman of its South Asia Sub-Committee. He had also held meetings with Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California), and Rep Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania). He added that during his discussions with these congressional leaders issues that had come up included Pakistan-Afghanistan, Pakistan-India and Pakistan-US relations, Balochistan floods and avalanches in the northern areas of Pakistan.
Karamat said that Pakistan Senate Chairman Muhammadmian Soomro, State Bank Governor Ishrat Hussain, Education Minister Javed Ashraf Qazi and the financial adviser to the prime minister, Salman Shah, were due to visit the United States in the coming weeks. While Soomro would arrive on February 19 and visit Boston, New York and Houston, Qazi was due to be in Washington from March 13 to 18.