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Pakistan opposition denounce US
aid package

K J M Verma in Islamabad | June 25, 2003 22:03 IST

Pakistan's opposition parties dismissed as 'dismal and disappointing' the $3 billion package offered by United States President George W Bush.

They said it was too little compared to the losses suffered by the country as a result of the war on terrorism.

Announcing this on Wednesday, Senator Faratullah Babar, spokesman of Pakistan People's Party led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said, "It is far too short of what could have been achieved given the losses incurred by Pakistan in economic, political and social sectors because of its support to the international community in the fight against terrorism."

Khursheed Ahmed, the vice-president of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's main Islamic party, said Musharraf had obtained nothing for the Pakistani people in his meeting with President George W Bush at Camp David on Tuesday

Ahmed added that Bush's refusal to deliver 28 F-16 fighter aircraft under a stalled deal dating back to the 1990s was "actually a slap on our faces."

The Islamist alliance, Muthahida Majlis-e-Amal, demanded to know the 'commitments' made by Musharraf in order to receive the package.

Senior MMA leader Liaqat Baluch said the people should be informed about the US demands accepted by Musharraf in return for the 'dole'.

He said the country was under a debt burden of $38 billion and the US grant would make no difference to the lives of ordinary Pakistanis.

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) acting President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi also termed the US package as 'disappointing'.

Babar said former Pakistani dictator General Zia-ul Haq had got $4.2 billion dollars as aid and 40 F-16s from the US in return for offering the country as a front-line state to fight the proxy war in Afghanistan in the eighties.

Babar said Bhutto herself had got $4.6 billion and 60 F-16s from the US during her tenure as prime minister.

Bush proposed the aid package over five years in return for Musharraf's support in the US-led war on terror, which Pakistani Islamists, who did unexpectedly well in October elections, bitterly oppose.

Many in Pakistan have still not forgiven Washington for refusing to deliver 28 F-16 fighters in the 1990s because of concerns over Islamabad's nuclear programme.

The United States is also wary of feeding an arms race in the region, where Pakistan went close to a fourth war with rival India last year.

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