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Pakistan Concerned about Possible Arms Race with India

A top Pakistani diplomat says rival India's spending spree on fighter jets and other state-of-the-art weaponry could start a regional arms race. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

Indian defense officials earlier this week announced that the country, which has the third-largest military in Asia, plans to spend $30 billion over the next five years to modernize its forces. Experts say that will likely make India the world's largest arms purchaser during that time period.

Shahid Malik, Pakistan's high commissioner to India, told reporters late Friday he is concerned about India's plan to purchase 126 new fighter jets.

"We only hope that this would not lead to any such massive scale of armaments buying that would lead to an arms race in the region. We are certainly opposed to that," said Malik.

India plans to reach agreement on the aircraft purchases this year. The leading candidates are considered to be Russia's MiG-35 and two U.S.-made fighters, the F-18, manufactured by Boeing, and the F-16, produced by Lockheed Martin.

Swedish and French companies are also in the competition.

Meanwhile, the United States is preparing to deliver 36 F-16s to Islamabad as part of Washington's pledge to meet Pakistan's security needs.

India and Pakistan, both of which have nuclear weapons, have fought three wars since they gained independence in 1947. Relations have warmed in recent years, however, and a series of sporadic peace talks is in progress.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.
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