Sun, Nov 06, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan postpones buying F-16s

LESS FIGHT, MORE RELIEF President Pervez Musharraf decided to put off purchasing 80 fighter jets in order to provide more relief to the victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake

AGENCIES , MUZAFFARABAD AND ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

While reconstruction and rehabilitation is a major concern for the government of Musharraf, the announcement on Friday of postponing the purchase was also aimed at placating possible criticism within the country, analysts said.

"This is probably to get political mileage," Ayesha Siddiqua Aga, a security analyst who is based in Islamabad, said, adding that there already criticism over a recent US$1 billion deal to buy Swedish Erie Eye SAAB airborne.

"If you buy major weapon programs, you can not attract foreign aid for relief and reconstruction," Aga said.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a defense and military analyst based in Lahore, agreed.

"I think this is a middle road that President Musharraf has adopted. He can keep the military happy because of no defense cut while deflect criticism," Rizvi said.

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