2004-06-18 / Reuters /
U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday named Pakistan a major non-NATO ally of the United States, making it easier for the country to acquire U.S. arms.
The announcement rewards Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for supporting the U.S.-led war on terrorism.
Secretary of State Colin Powell told Musharraf in March that his country would get the designation. A memorandum issued by Bush on Wednesday made it official.
The status of major non-NATO ally is also enjoyed by Australia, Bahrain, Israel, South Korea and Morocco.
As a major non-NATO ally, Pakistan could use U.S. funding to lease some defense items and would become eligible for loans of military supplies for research and development projects.
It would also become eligible to buy depleted uranium ammunition, to have U.S.-owned military stockpiles on its territory outside U.S. bases and to receive U.S. military training on easier financial terms.
However, the designation does not confer the mutual defense and security guarantees enjoyed by NATO members.
The United States imposed sanctions on Pakistan after it conducted nuclear tests in 1998 but most were lifted in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, when Pakistan became a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.
Given Pakistan’s porous border with Afghanistan, its help is seen as vital if the United States is to catch Osama bin Laden and defeat his al-Qaida network.
Many in Pakistan have not forgiven United States for refusing to deliver 28 F-16 fighters in the 1990s because of worry over Pakistan’s nuclear program. The planes had been paid for, but it took eight years for the money to be refunded.
India, Pakistan’s long-standing rival, opposes the sale of F-16s to Pakistan and the decision to grant Islamabad major non-NATO ally status could trouble New Delhi, which does not have that status, although it has growing military contacts with Washington as part of their overall “strategic partnership.”
“India is one of our closest allies,” a senior Bush administration official said. “We have wonderful bilateral relations with India and we will continue to do so.