US arms for Pakistan

Contrary to the July 8 opinion (``India and Pakistan: window of opportunity''), a parallel between US sales of arms to Iran and Pakistan does not exist. American policymakers of the day were obsessed with the desire to build the Shah's Iran as one of the two regional heavy- weights (India was the other), and as a consequence the Shah could buy from the US whatever equipment he desired. Military sales to Pakistan, on the other hand, are intended to strengthen its defensive potential, which had been undermined seriously because of the 1965 embargo. The amount involved is not $3.2 billion, as alleged by the author, but half of it, and it is in the form of credits tenable over a period of five years. Apparently he also overlooks that much before this development, India had ordered the latest Jaguar aircraft from the British and submarines from West Germany. In addition, it had contracted to purchase sophisticated arms, including the latest generation of MIGs, tanks, naval vessels, and missiles, from Moscow on highly concessional terms. Their value i n Western markets is many times the $1.7 billion that India would pay the Soviet Union for these purchases. Since then there have been other major arms deals with the Soviet Union -- all on special terms.

Pakistan realizes the futility of wars and unnecessary expenditure on armaments. That explains its 1981 invitation to India to sign a nonaggression pact and an earlier proposal for bilateral talks to determine a mutually acceptable ratio of armaments. It also offered a number of proposals in 1978, any one of which should banish the specter of nuclear arms from South Asia. India countered the Pakistan initiative with a proposal for a treaty of peace, friendship, and cooperation. Talks on the two sets of proposals are expected to resume this month after a year-long hiatus. To the other initiative, there has been no response. M. I. Butt, Minister (Information) Embassy of Pakistan, Washington

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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