Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Brown Amendment Prepares Way for Arms Delivery to Pakistan

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Brown Amendment Prepares Way for Arms Delivery to Pakistan

Article excerpt

Brown Amendment Prepares Way for Arms Delivery to Pakistan

By M.M. Ali

To solve a five-year-old impasse over arms that Pakistan has paid for but the U.S. has not yet delivered, the House-Senate conference committee approved 11 to 3 on Oct. 24 the Brown Amendment that sought a one-time waiver to the Pressler Amendment (Section 620E of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961). The Pressler Amendment requires that the U.S. president certify that any country allowed to buy U.S. military hardware is not developing nuclear weapons. In 1990, President George Bush declined to make such a certification regarding Pakistan. Consequently, all U.S. arms deliveries to Pakistan were suspended.

The action ended a period of extremely close cooperation during the 1980s when the United States funnelled large quantities of arms to Pakistan for use by the mujahideen (freedom fighters) in the Afghan war against the former Soviet Union. At that time, Pakistan was allowed to order F-16 aircraft and also purchase conventional military equipment for its own use. Pakistan had paid more than $600 million for the planes and $368 million for the other arms when the 1990 freeze halted their delivery.

In an Oct. 21 editorial, the Boston Globe urged the U.S. Congress to redress the situation: "Today Pakistan has neither its aircraft nor its money. The planes are parked in Arizona [and] incredibly, the United States has started adding storage and maintenance fees." Now, while the conference committee vote has cleared the way for the delivery of the conventional weapons, the U.S. still is looking for a third country to buy the F-16s so that the money can be repaid to Pakistan.

The Brown Amendment, which is part of the larger foreign aid bill, goes back to both houses of Congress and then to the president for his signature.

In the weekly Indian magazine Sunday of Oct. 15-21, M.B. Naqvi wrote: "So, the Pakistani navy might finally get the PC3 Orion aircraft for naval patrolling with 28 Harpoon missiles and other odds and ends. The army and the air force would also get some bits of ammunition...The navy's share is the largest--$191.8 million. The air force's share is $98.8 million and the army's amounts to just $77 million." In his dispatch from Karachi, Naqvi wondered: "One has had occasion to doubt the rationality of Islamabad's dependence on the U.S. for its military supplies. The U.S. has never supplied even a single stick of dynamite without minutely calculating that its effect will be very close to zero insofar as the maintenance of the existing balance of Pakistan's military strength with India's is concerned..."

Both the Pakistani and Indian reactions were exaggerated.

Despite such justified sour notes, reaction in Pakistan at the passage of the Brown Amendment through the conference committee was euphoric. Pakistani Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi called it a "positive action" that will "enhance the credibility of the U.S. worldwide." However, the Indian ambassador, Shankar Ray, predicted that even a one-time waiver would adversely affect the climate for U.S. investment in India, although an Oct. 25 Reuters dispatch from Delhi quoted an "official spokesman" as saying that "U.S. businesses need not worry."

In fact, both the Pakistani and Indian reactions were exaggerated. Although Pakistan has received what was long overdue, it has not come without a price. prime Minister Benazir Bhutto agreed to freeze her country's nuclear program. Meanwhile, India loses nothing. It has its Agni and Prithvi missiles, and its nuclear program remains on track. The Pressler Amendment still applies to Pakistan, while India labors under no such burden. The Pressler law has done nothing whatsoever to stop nuclear proliferation in the subcontinent because it is country-specific legislation that applies only to Pakistan, leaving India in the center of Asia, and others like Israel and North Korea on its fringes, to do what they like. …

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