Pakistan seeks US arms, helicopters ahead of summit

May 4th, 2009 - 10:34 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 4 (IANS) Pakistan has asked the US for more arms, including helicopters, saying what they’ve got isn’t enough to fight the Al Qaeda and Taliban forces threatening Pakistan’s stability as also Afghanistan, a media report said.

The new demand comes ahead of a trilateral summit the President Barack Obama is hosting Wednesday with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, The Hill focusing on politics on the Capitol Hill reported Sunday.

Obama will meet jointly and separately with the two leaders, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday. Karzai and Zardari will also meet with administration officials and lawmakers.

As the US Congress weighs aid for Pakistan with Islamabad remaining resistant to any strings attached, there was no indication whether the equipment would be sought in addition to the $7.5 billion over five years already proposed for Pakistan by Obama, the newspaper said.

However, it cited Pakistan Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit as saying in Islamabad last week that other countries including the United Kingdom had been approached for help with adding helicopters, yet “no worthwhile response” had been received.

“According to information available to us, the administration in US is in touch with the Capitol Hill and there will be a possibility of moving forward in this regard,” Basit was quoted as saying

“We are determined and resolved to fight terrorism and extremism and this had been widely appreciated all over the world,” Basit said.

“As far as our capacity is concerned, obviously there are gaps. For instance, we face shortage of helicopters as well as night vision equipment. We are engaged with US in order to plug these gaps.”

About a month ago, Pakistan reportedly wanted the US to hand over control of its unmanned drones and corresponding intelligence for strikes against terrorist strongholds, the Hill said.

Pakistan had argued to visiting US special envoy Richard Holbrooke and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that the attacks were only making the fight against the extremists worse.

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