Pakistani officials were fortunate to be greeted with a fresh offer of military hardware – possibly totaling as much as $2 billion over the next five years. This latest gear includes (infact likely to include) night vision goggles, and helicopter spare parts. This is not new for Pakistanis, since 9/11 Pakistan’s gotten lots of big-ticket items from the U.S. military. According to the Congressional Research Service’s tally (.pdf), that includes eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft; six C-130 cargo planes; over 5000 TOW anti-armor missiles; 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles; and even an Oliver Hazard Perry-class missile frigate. And by next year, Pakistan will receive 18 new F-16 combat jets from the U.S. — fighters capable of carrying a nuclear payload.
”There has been some discussion on upgrading the navy’s fleet with retired U.S. ships,” says Shuja Nawaz, a South Asia analyst at the Atlantic Council. The latest addition in Pakistan Navel Fleet is US decommisioned USS McInerney FFG-8 (PNS Alamgir for Pakistan Navy). The ship (shown) is second of Oliver Hazard Perry class of a guided missile frigate. PNS Alamgir’s mission is to provide multi-threat protection for military and merchant shipping, amphibious task forces and underway replenishment groups. This 32-year old ship was sold to Pakistan in US$65 million refurbishment including anti-submarine capability paid for with foreign military aid provided by the U.S. to friendly countries. The transfer of old Navy ships to other countries is done through the Navy’s International Programs Office, which brokers deals through its foreign military sales department. PNS ALAMGIR after necessary maintenance work and training will set sail for Pakistan in January 2011. The ship is a potent addition in Pakistan Navy Surface Fleet and with its onboard weapons and sensors will be able to effectively contribute in the maritime defence of Pakistan.
Considering the latest gear what options does Pakistan have? According the Spencer Ackerman (Wired Magazine) puts it this way:
“Unless al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban have developed an armor corps and a submarine-heavy Navy while no one was looking, these weapons have more utility against the Indians than the terrorists.”
This gear is either a treat from US for Pakistan to use against terrorists or U.S. military seeks to prevent a deepening erosion of a relationship that US can’t live with. This especially true after recent wikileaks suggesting a strong ties between Pakistan and Insurgents. WikiLeaks has freaked out the White House, though, by clearly raising questions about whether Pakistani aid to the Afghan insurgency is far deeper than typically acknowledged. How much truth is in it, I think it will be too early to say anything. However, it’s not a surprising news that the Pakistani ISI has ties to the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami. How much of this money or gear will go to Afgan pockets no one knows, it is only a time who will show a true motivation behind these large spendings on US non-NATO ally. But Is there a silver lining to Pakistan’s relationship with the insurgents? Not known, at least to me. Are things still Koran, Kalashnikov and laptop or do I have to add heat seaker missiles to it as well ?