US to give Pakistan $1 bn military aid, UAVs

January 22nd, 2010 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Jan 22 (IANS) The US on Friday formally announced $1 billion aid for Pakistan, besides providing unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and state-of-the-art military equipment, but refused to commit itself to halting drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas.
“The one billion dollars would be utilized to enhance capacity building of Pakistani Army and other forces. We would also supply (Shadow) pilotless spy planes and other military equipment to Pakistan,” US Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at the US embassy as he wound down a two-day visit here.

Gates was, however, non-committal on whether the drone attacks would cease.

Ever since the drone attacks in the restive North and South Waziristan agencies along the border with Afghanistan began in August 2008, targeting the Taliban, Pakistan has been repeatedly demanding that these either stop or Islamabad be given the technology to build and operate the missile firing machines.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have on more than one occasion made the demand but until now the US has been steadfast in its refusal. Instead, Pakistan will now be given the unarmed version of the UAVs.

This year alone has seen eight missile strikes by US spy planes. More than 700 people have died in close to 80 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008.

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