The New York Times is quoting unnamed senior Obama administration and Congressional officials as claiming that the United States is accusing Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India.
American military and intelligence officials reportedly say they suspect that Pakistan has modified the Harpoon antiship missiles that the United States sold the country in the 1980s, a move that would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. Pakistan has denied the charge, saying it developed the missile itself. The United States has also accused Pakistan of modifying American-made P-3C aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of United States law that the Obama administration has protested.
According to a senior Pakistani official, Pakistan has taken the unusual step of agreeing to allow American officials to inspect the country’s Harpoon inventory to prove that it had not violated the law, a step that the US administration officials praised.
Independent experts are also skeptical of the alleged American claims, according to Asian Defense blog. Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, a yearbook and Web-based data service, has said the Harpoon missile did not have the necessary range for a land-attack missile, which would lend credibility to Pakistani claims that they are developing their own new missile. Moreover, he said, Pakistan already has more modern land-attack missiles that it developed itself or acquired from China.
According to Tech Lahore blog, Pakistan's Raa’d missile has been mated with Mach 2 capable Mirages and is now being integrated with Pakistan’s new fighter, the JF-17. The missile can be launched from a stand-off distance of almost 500km and employs more sophisticated guidance than the Harpoon. This raises the question as to why would Pakistan want to attack land targets with a slow, bulky aircraft like the P-3, firing shorter range Harpoon missiles, when it’s air force already has almost 175 Mirage aircraft with Raa’d cruise missiles and recently added in-flight refueling capability?
“They’re beyond the need to reverse-engineer old U.S. kit,” said Mr. Hewson about Pakistan's current capabilities. “They’re more sophisticated than that.” Mr. Hewson said the ship-to-shore missile that Pakistan was testing was part of a concerted effort to develop an array of conventional missiles that could be fired from the air, land or sea to address India’s much more formidable conventional missile arsenal.
Recently, the US has signed a nuclear cooperation deal with India and offered to sell over $2 billion worth of sophisticated weaponry, further enhancing India's military might.
Coming just a week before the $7.5 billion aid-to-Pakistan bill goes to the US senate, it is clear that the timing and the motives of Eric Schmitt and David Sanger of the New York Times “leak” are highly suspicious. It fits a pattern of "leaks" in Washington to either defeat or add poison pill amendments to any legislation likely to aid to Pakistan. Such well-timed "leaks” to the New York Times, known for similar " well-timed leaks" about Iraq WMDs prior to the ill-conceived US invasion of the middle eastern nation, are most likely inspired by the Israeli and Indian lobbies in Washington who are irrevocably opposed to any US assistance to Pakistan.
Past denials of US weapons to Pakistan while offering modern offensive weapons to India has been a blessing in disguise for Pakistani military and its defense industry. Every time US has embargoed or quibbled over some insignificant little "arms control" violations with Pakistan, Pakistanis have responded to the challenge by developing their own indigenous capabilities. Such developments not only help strengthen the nation's defenses, domestic defense production also aids in developing human skills, enhancing arms exports and providing badly-needed jobs to many.
Here's a video clip about Pakistan's arms expo IDEAS 2008:
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