Pakistan embraces China as new arms partner: Report

March 28th, 2011 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

F-16 Islamabad, March 28 (IANS) Pakistan is now “backing away” from the US, its long-time strategic arms partner, and has joined hands with China to “beef up” its arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles, experts have said.

Pakistan recently test-fired a nuclear-capable missile from an undisclosed location, for its short-range surface-to-surface Hatf-2 class rocket, which has been developed with help from China, Fox News reported.

The US was the main supplier of weapons to Pakistan since the mid-1960s. But it began to back away from the deals after years of “difficult and sometimes unpredictable” relations following the 9/11 terror attack.

“The US no longer fully supports the military ambitions of a Pakistan that is being destabilised by an insurgency it cannot control, rising radicalism and anti-westernism, and a government considered by some too weak and corrupt,” it said.

“That led Pakistan to replace the US with China as a main source of defence material, at least in terms of arsenal, development and training.”

Nate Hughes, director of military analysis at Stratfor, a think tank, said: “China is perceived as not coming with nearly as many strings attached as relations with the US.”

In November last year, when the US delivered a few of the F-16 fighter jets it had pledged to Pakistan, Islamabad said it has also ordered from China SD10 homing missiles and radar systems to equip its JF-17 jets.

China will also send Pakistan 250 JF-17s over the next five to 10 years, it said.

A $1.3 billion deal has also been reportedly signed to buy J-10 fighters and six submarines.

A Pakistani official, who was not named, said it was important for the navy to acquire more submarines to offset the pressure the country might come under due to rapid expansion of India’s naval capability.

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