A Congressional Research Service paper on US Arms sales to Pakistan, provides some incredible statistics.This little pamphlet, only four pages long, succintly sets out the curious history of arms deals between the United States and Pakistan. Supported in the 50s and 60s, ignored in the 70s, back in favour in the 80s, no sales in the 90s, biggest customer in a single year in the 00s. Who would bet on a continuing relationship?
The September 2001 attacks on America gradually brought Pakistan back into the American camp as President Bush looked for allies in the war on terror. From then on the defence sales burgeoned. In June 2004, President Bush designated Pakistan a Major Non-NATO ally and the resulting list of material bought by Pakistan - with finance from US banks - is truly staggering.
By 2006 Pakistan was spending $3.5bn a year on American weapons, thus becoming the US defence industry's biggest customer.
Amongst the purchases were 36 F-16c/D Block 50/52 fighter aircraft ($1.4bn); a variety of missiles and bombs for use with the F-16 C/D fighter ($640m); the purchase of upgrade kits for Pakistan’s F-16A/B aircraft ($890m); and 115 M109A5 155mm Self-propelled howitzers ($52m).
Not bad for a country that defied the United States to produce its own version of the hydrogen bomb. And despite the fact that from 1985 until the end of the century US policy had been influenced by laws which required the President to certify each year to Congress that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device, before authorising any defence sales.
Now we learn that for the period from 2005-2008, Pakistan has placed defence orders in America valued at $4.5bn. Quite a turnaround.