LAHORE: Even though the Pakistani government is playing down the US role in its military operations against the in the Tribal Areas, Washington has quietly rushed hundreds of millions of dollars in arms, equipment and sophisticated sensors to Pakistan’s armed forces in recent months, senior US and Pakistani officials told the New York Times.
In a report published on Thursday, the NYT stated President Barack Obama had personally intervened during preparations for the military campaigns in Swat and South Waziristan, at the request of top army officials to speed the delivery of 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters.
The Pentagon had also hurried spare parts for Cobra helicopter gunships, night-vision goggles, body armour and eavesdropping equipment for the fight against the Taliban.
Meanwhile, US drones are feeding video images and target information to Pakistan ground commanders, and the Pentagon has quietly provided the Pakistani Air Force with high-resolution, infrared sensors for F-16 jet fighters, which Pakistan is using to guide bomb attacks on Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan.
Pakistani officials were unwilling to publicise the aid because of the anti-America sentiment prevailing among the people, and express frustration about the pace and types of US aid, which will amount to about $1.5 billion this year, the report claimed.
Analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said public acknowledgment of the military aid could hand the Taliban a new basis for propaganda attacks.
“The Pakistan military would not like to talk about the US assistance,” he said, “so that the terrorists, most of whom are opposed to military operations, do not get additional reason to criticise the military and the government.”
“The Pakistanis insist on ‘no American face’ on their war. Period,” a senior US military officer in Southwest Asia told NYT.
“We are grateful for the generosity, but believe that we have now learned to fight with what all we possess and not what has been promised,” said a senior Pakistani officer. Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Centre of the Atlantic Council, a research group, sharply criticised the Obama administration in an essay on the organisation’s website last week.
“Pakistan still does not have all the weapons or assistance that it needs to do the job right,” he said.
A US adviser in Pakistan told NYT that the current US “military assistance either demonstrates US resolve and offsets anti-Americanism, or is deliberately underplayed to boost Pakistani military and political credibility, and the latter meets our policy objectives more closely”.