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US to boost up Pakistan's defence capability: Report

US to deliver F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan

NEW YORK (PTI): US will supply sophisticated laser-guided-bomb kits, 12 American-made surveillance drones and 18 late-model F-16 fighters to boost Pakistani forces capability to strike in remote tribal areas, a development which could spark unease in New Delhi.

The new arms supply, Wall Street Journal said was part of efforts by Pentagon to boost Pakistani forces capability to take on Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

Islamabad is also to receive equipment capable of converting 1,000 traditional munitions into "smart bombs" that can strike targets with precisions, the paper reported.

With this new arms aid, US counterinsurgency assistance fund for Pakistan is slated to increase to USD 1.2 billion in fiscal year 2011 from USD 700 million in the current fiscal.

"Pakistan, which is smaller and poorer than neighbouring India, uses American grants to fund most of its arms purchase," the Journal said.

"The laser-guided-bomb kits could spark some unease in India, where officials have been warily watching the expanded US military aid to Pakistan and wondering if the weapons would one day be turned against them," the Journal wrote.

"India lobbied against recent US legislation giving Pakistan billions of dollars in new non-military aid, though the measure was passed anyway."

Members of the US Congress have regularly objected to the constant flow of arms and ammunitions, questioning the Pakistani leadership's ability to fight the insurgency and the motivations of the ISI.

But no opposition has been aroused in case of new arms shipment, the Journal said as Americans feel that Pakistan is playing its part in neutralising dreaded militant outfits like Al Qaeda and Taliban and allowing use of its soil to mount drone strikes inside Pakistan's territory.

"The commitment that the Pakistani government, the military, its intelligence forces have demonstrated over the past several months to combating this threat within their midst is commendable," Geoff Morrell, pentagon spokesperson said, last week. "We are here to help them in any which way they are comfortable."

In another recent article, the Journal reported that the US was bumping up its defence equipment to both India and Pakistan in the coming two years.

"For 2010 and 2011, India could well be the most important market in the world for defence contractors looking to make foreign military sales," Tom Captain, the vice chairman of Deloitte LLP's aerospace and defense practice, was quoted in the article.

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