Pakistan Navy chief says US suspension of security aid not ‘life or death situation’
Islamabad :Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi has said the US decision to suspend security aid to Pakistan was not a favourable move but it would not lead to a “life or death situation”.
During an interaction with the media at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, Abbasi also said India’s sea-based nuclear weapon initiative had compelled Pakistan to take steps to maintain strategic balance in the region.
Pakistan wants a good relationship with the US based on mutual respect, and not security or economic assistance, he said. “Security assistance is not our primary consideration. We want good relations with or without security assistance…We can work without US assistance,” he added.
The US suspended nearly $2 billion in security aid in January and recently cancelled a payment of $300 million from the Coalition Support Fund. Abbasi noted the US had also cancelled a programme that sent Pakistani military officers to attend courses at American defence institutions.
“We are still sending our officers to the US, funding the programme from our own resources,” he said.
Islamabad is also looking for new surveillance aircraft as the P-3C Orion planes given by the Washington more than a decade ago are outdated. He said, “We are ready to acquire them from any source, including the US.”
Pakistan’s three service chiefs are currently out of the country, with the navy chief visiting the US, the army chief in China and the air force chief in Russia.
Referring to India’s sea-based nuclear weapon initiative, Abbasi said: “Sea-based nuclear weapons provide an assured second strike capability, which disturbs the equation. Unless we equal that, the imbalance might induce India to start a conventional war.
“We have legitimate concerns and our programme is aimed at discouraging India from doing so.”