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November 10, 2001
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Give us F-16s for helping you: Pakistan to US

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said his United States visit was in search of major "gestures" from the Bush administration, including release of American F-16 fighters and asserted that its nuclear weapons were "under very strong custodial control".

In an interview to The New York Times, Musharraf said he would be asking President Bush for concrete "gestures" in response to Pakistan's strong support in the campaign against terrorism.

Stating that he could not predict how long the bombing campaign could continue before the opposition within Pakistan became a threat to his government, Musharraf said he felt the intensity of demonstrations was actually diminishing.

But, he said, "visible gestures" of gratitude from the US would help blunt public criticism of his decision to ally his country with Washington.

He placed special emphasis on the F-16s because their arrival would be the most visible sign that the US was restoring Pakistan to the stature of a genuine ally.

Pakistan had purchased 28 F-16s in the 1980s, but their delivery was blocked when Congress cut off all aid and military sales in 1990, citing Pakistan's secret nuclear-weapons development.

Musharraf said Pakistan was more than willing to accept assistance from the US to render Pakistan's nuclear arsenal more secure and added that the nuclear weapons were under "very strong custodial control".

Asked whether he felt slighted by Washington and by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Musharraf said, "Well, sometimes yes." He said this was understandable because he was a military man who had seized power.

The gestures that would reverse these wrongs, he said, should include major debt relief, military assistance, and more understanding for the sensitivity of the Pakistani public on the issue of its nuclear weapons.

"The opinion of the people of Pakistan has to be moulded, and it can be done through gestures," he said.

On reports that Mazar-e-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan had fallen to the Northern Alliance, he commended the victory and said he had no reservations if the American-led coalition decided to set up a forward air base at the airfield near the town.

PTI

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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