'Pak modified US arms to target India'

Islamabad refutes charge, says anti-ship missiles developed indigenously

Barack Obama

The Obama administration, reported The New York Times in a front page story, lodged its protest in this regard with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in June, adding to the tension between the two countries.

Quoting unnamed officials from the administration and US Congress, the daily said Washington had also accused Pakistan of modifying US-made P-3C aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of the US law.

The Obama administration’s accusation confirms New Delhi’s stand that the US military aid is primarily used by Pakistan to strengthen and build up its army against India.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna earlier this month had said that India had conveyed to the US that all forms of aid provided to Pakistan was “invariably directed” against New Delhi, and that providing more arms to Islamabad would not help the peace process in the region. “We have told the US that, particularly in the case of Pakistan, whatever aid in whatever form has been given to them is invariably directed against India, and this has been emphatically registered with the US government,” Krishna had said, reacting to the US’ plans to provide more military aid to Pakistan.

Pak denial
The New York Times said Pakistan refuted the charge that it had modified the missiles and claimed that it had developed the missiles itself. A foreign office spokesman “rejected the accusation” in the report. In a brief statement, the spokesman said “no modification has been made to the missiles under reference”. Between 1985 and 1988, the US had provided 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan.

The daily said top leaders of Congress had been briefed about the protest lodged by the Obama administration. US Congress is currently in the process of approving legislation which triples non-military aid to Pakistan which along with the military aid amounts to $ 7.5 billion in five years. The dispute could derail the legislation, the daily said. “Whatever their origin, the missiles would be a significant new entry into Pakistan’s arsenal against India. They would enable Pakistan’s small navy to strike targets on land, complementing the sizable land-based missile arsenal that Pakistan has developed,” The New York Times said.

“The focus of our concern is that this is a potential unauthorised modification of a maritime anti-ship defensive capability to an offensive land-attack missile,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying.

The potential for “proliferation and end-use violations are things we watch very closely,” the official said. “When we have concerns, we act aggressively.”

According to the paper, a senior unnamed Pakistani official said the missile tested was developed by Pakistan, just as it had modified North Korean designs to build a range of land-based missiles that could strike India. The accusation came at “a particularly delicate time, when Washington is pressing a reluctant Pakistani military to focus its attention on fighting Taliban, rather than expanding its nuclear and conventional forces aimed at India.”

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