Canada not to lift arms embargo on Pakistan

May 22nd, 2009 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 22 (IANS) Canada Thursday clarified it has no plans to lift its arms embargo on Pakistan, a day after the defence minister said the government was contemplating resuming military sales to Islamabad.

Ottawa had imposed the embargo after Pakistan exploded its nuclear device in 1998 in response to India’s second round of nuclear tests.

The government’s statement comes just a day after Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in Islamabad that his government was “contemplating” lifting the arms embargo on Pakistan. He had also announced the resumption of military training programmes for Pakistani officers.

Drones, flight stimulators and night vision equipment were mentioned among the equipment that Canada could supply to Pakistan as it seeks western support to fight the Taliban.

Though New Delhi has not taken up the matter with Ottawa, Indian diplomatic sources expressed concern that the weapons given to Pakistan in the name of fighting the Taliban could be used against India.

Contradicting its defence minister’s announcement, the Conservative government said Thursday it has no plans to resume arms sales to Pakistan.

A spokesperson for Canadian foreign minister Lawrence Cannon told the media that the government has no plan to review the arms embargo on Pakistan.

“Canada’s policy regarding military exports to Pakistan remains unchanged,” the spokesperson said. Denying that the government ever considered lifting the embargo, the spokesperson reiterated, “No. There are no plans to lift restrictions on the arms sales ban with Pakistan.”

Islamabad has been pushing hard to get the Canadian embargo rolled back.

Pakistani deputy high commissioner Naela Chohan was quoted as saying by the Globe and Mail newspaper Friday those after lengthy efforts of pushing for the ban to be lifted, Canadian diplomats have told her that Ottawa was considering doing so.

“I had been hearing it from my diplomatic contacts. That’s my information. If there has been any development or change on that, I haven’t [had that] conveyed officially,” she told the newspaper.

The Pakistani envoy said her country is “a partner to Canada in this effort to eradicate the international menace of terrorism and extremism. And we need all the equipment to further enhance the capacity of our military and defence forces. And for that we need this ban to be lifted.”

Chohan added, “We (Pakistan) need support. Just by saying you’re supporting us is not enough. We need tangible support.”

Only the opposition Liberal Party of Canada, which has many prominent Indo-Canadian MPs like Ujjal Dosanjh, Ruby Dhalla, and Gurbax Malhi in its ranks, wants the arms ban on Pakistan to be reviewed.

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