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Joining Yemen war would be Pakistan’s own decision: State Deptt

US weapons to provide Pakistan capabilities in counter-terrorism operations

WASHINGTON: US says that every country can make their own decisions about how they – if and how they participate in the Saudi-led coalition attacking Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Speaking at the daily press briefing, State Department’s Acting Spokesperson Marie Harf said despite supporting Pakistan logistically, with munitions and other arms, “every country can make their own decisions about that. That’s not for us to decide”.

“Every country can make their own decisions if and how they participate in the Saudi-led coalition.  We have said that we are supporting them logistically, as I said, with munitions and other arms as well.  Every country can make their own decisions about that.  That’s not for us to decide” she elaborated.

On approximately $1 billion of arms deal, including Hellfire missiles and helicopters, to Pakistan, Harf confirmed that the State Department has approved a military sale to Pakistan for helicopters and associated equipment, parts, and support for an estimated cost of about $952 million.

“This proposed sale of helicopters and weapons systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counter-terrorism operations inside the country,” she said.

Answering a question regarding possible use of the weapons, Harf said the arms are for internal counter-terrorism uses inside Pakistan.

She said we have a very close counterterrorism relationship with Pakistan for very good reasons.  There’s still a serious threat in Pakistan from terrorists who have either attacked the United States or American soldiers in Afghanistan, who have tried to plot and plan against the West, including the U.S.  Obviously, the remnants of core al-Qaida are mainly in the tribal areas of Pakistan.  So the Pakistanis have a serious problem still, and that’s why we’re trying to help them.  This is in our national security interest to do so.

“We obviously have many ways of monitoring how weapons we sell to any country are used in terms of end use and how we monitor that. That’s obviously something we care very deeply about.”

The sale, which requires approval by Congress, would see Pakistan acquire 15 Viper Attack Helicopters and 1,000 Hellfire II Missiles, along with associated hardware and training, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement released on Monday.

Identifying Pakistan as a country “vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia”, she said would not adversely affect the regional balance of power.

Islamabad has been battling a homegrown insurgency since 2004 and has deployed about one-third of its forces in its restive tribal areas along the Afghan border where they are engaging Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants.

“This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes”.


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