US Expands Arms Sale to South Asian Rivals India, Pakistan: Report

The US is expanding weapons sales to South Asian rivals India and Pakistan in a bid to forge ‘closer ties with each country while creating new opportunities for American defence firms’, reported IANS citing the Wall Street Journal report.

According to report, America made a billions of dollars in weapons deals with India, which is in the middle of a five-year, $50 billion push to sophisticate its military, while US aid to Pakistan will be nearly doubled next year.

Noting that Washington’s relations with the two countries are very different, the Journal said: “India, which is wealthier and larger than its neighbour, pays for weapons purchases with its own funds.”

“Pakistan, by contrast, uses American grants to fund most of its arms purchases. A new US counterinsurgency assistance fund for Pakistan is slated to increase from $700 million in fiscal year 2010 to $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2011.

“We do straight commercial deals with India, while Pakistan effectively uses the money we give them to buy our equipment,” the Journal said quoting a US official who works with the two countries.

“But we think that’s ultimately in our national interest because it makes the Pakistanis more capable of dealing with their homegrown terrorists.”

“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 defence practice was quoted as saying.

Citing White House officials, the report said that the Obama administration was trying to convince India to buy American jet fighters, which would result in closer military and political relations between India and the US.

“It would also be a bonanza for US defence contractors,” the Journal said noting US has dispatched senior officials such as Gates to New Delhi “to deliver the message that Washington hopes India will choose American defence firms for major purchases in the years ahead”, report said.

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