I’m not your poodle, but thanks for the jets

Pakistanis weren’t happy after Bush’s frosty visit to their country in March, with Bush refusing to consider a nuclear deal like the one he’d just brokered with India. Musharraf’s popularity in the meantime has taken a hit, and he’s had to fight back with assurances that he’s not Bush’s “poodle.” So yesterday’s announcement that the sale ...

608717_F165.jpg
608717_F165.jpg
040723-F-6740T-308 A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies through the sky during a combat mission over Iraq on July 23, 2004. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Lee O. Tucker, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

Pakistanis weren't happy after Bush's frosty visit to their country in March, with Bush refusing to consider a nuclear deal like the one he'd just brokered with India. Musharraf's popularity in the meantime has taken a hit, and he's had to fight back with assurances that he's not Bush's "poodle."

So yesterday's announcement that the sale of F16 jets to Pakistan is going forward could be seen as a sign that Bush is still willing to accede to some of Pakistan's requests - if Musharraf promises to crackdown on al Qaeda in the northwestern frontier. It's a smaller package of fighter jets than envisioned last year (last October's earthquake constrained resources, according to Riaz Khan, Pakistan's foreign secretary) but still better than nothing.

But I'm wondering whether one interesting Pakistani request will be part of the final package - however scaled-down. Back in 2004, Joshua Kucera reported for Slate:

Pakistanis weren’t happy after Bush’s frosty visit to their country in March, with Bush refusing to consider a nuclear deal like the one he’d just brokered with India. Musharraf’s popularity in the meantime has taken a hit, and he’s had to fight back with assurances that he’s not Bush’s “poodle.”

So yesterday’s announcement that the sale of F16 jets to Pakistan is going forward could be seen as a sign that Bush is still willing to accede to some of Pakistan’s requests – if Musharraf promises to crackdown on al Qaeda in the northwestern frontier. It’s a smaller package of fighter jets than envisioned last year (last October’s earthquake constrained resources, according to Riaz Khan, Pakistan’s foreign secretary) but still better than nothing.

But I’m wondering whether one interesting Pakistani request will be part of the final package – however scaled-down. Back in 2004, Joshua Kucera reported for Slate:

[T]he Pakistanis gave a clue as to what they really want with the planes: They are requesting that the F-16s be armed with top-of-the-line air-to-air missiles that would be of little use against targets like the Islamists it’s fighting on the ground. Other equipment Pakistan is getting from the United States—navy surveillance planes, for example—is similarly useless against a guerrilla insurgency. They would, of course, be useful in a war against India.

India has been against the jet sale since it was announced. Expect an outcry if those air-to-air missiles are part of the final package.  

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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