New Delhi: Government on Friday voiced serious
concern over diversion of US weapons meant for anti-terror
operations by Pakistan for "strengthening position" against
India, while the IAF also cautioned that Pakistan Air Force
was "catching up" with it due to the American military aid.
Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters here
that during his recent visit to the US, he had raised the
issue of arms aid to Pakistan with top American leaders who
said the weapons were meant for strengthening Pakistan Army in
its fight against terrorists.
"But I said that as far as Pakistan`s track record is
concerned, whenever America gives them sophisticated arms in
the name of fight against terrorism, a portion of them is
diverted to strengthen their position against India. This is a
matter of serious concern to us," he said.
During his recent two-day visit to the US, the
Defence Minister had held meetings with his counterpart Robert
Gates, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National
Security Adviser James Jones where he had raised the issue of
the American military supplies to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, IAF`s Western Air Command chief Air Marshal
N A K Browne termed the latest F-16s, missiles and munition
supplied to PAF by the US as a "challenge" and said it was
reducing the technological gap between the two air forces.
"Earlier the difference of assets was a certain
amount. But their acquisitions have seem to have reduced (the
gap) between the PAF and IAF in terms of capability of their
aircraft, Beyond Visual Range missile systems, day and night
operations and precision guided munitions," he added.
The Western Air Commander chief was asked to comment
on the US arms aid to Pakistan including F-16s purportedly for
counter-terrorism operations along its Afghanistan border.
"There are things actually that tend to reduce the
gap. Pakistan is catching up with the IAF, which has always
had an edge in terms of its size and platforms. But I don`t
think so (that PAF would match the IAF in the future)," he
Citing an example, Browne said the 16 F-16 Block-50/52
being delivered to PAF was a conventional weapon platform.
"It can switch its roles from sub-conventional to
conventional warfare. It can be done while flying in the air
itself. These modern aircraft all have that capability," he
PAF received the first batch of four latest F-16s in
June this year and have based them in the Shahbaz air base.
When pointed out that the arms supplies were meant
for the war on terror that Pakistan was aiding against the
Taliban and al-Qaeda, Browne said, "It is all hocus-pocus very