02:49 GMT23 October 2020
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    US State Department's announcement of a billion-dollar defense deal with Pakistan earlier this week has upset the South Asian country's rival India who fears that US-supplied weapons can alter the power balance in the region, an Indian political analyst told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Monday, US authorities said they had approved Pakistan's request to buy US-made attack helicopters, missiles, targeting and positioning systems, and other military equipment. The weapons will allegedly be used to combat Taliban militants in the country's hard-to-reach areas on the Afghan border and other local security threats.

    "We do not believe that this is going to enhance security in South Asia and also we believe that some of these weapons will be used by Pakistan against India, they will be directed against India, rather than against terrorism," said Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice President of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

    The US Defense Cooperation Agency, which oversees US arms trade, said the deal will not affect the "basic military balance" in the region, meaning Pakistan's standoff with India over the disputed eastern border.

    A retired Pakistani military officer told Sputnik that India had an equal stockpile of rockets like those to be supplied to Pakistan. He added the missiles in question are strategic weapons and cannot be fired across the border.

    "At the same time, they can come in handy on our border with Afghanistan, especially in mountainous regions where [Pakistan] is currently carrying out an anti-terror operation," retired Lt. Col. Furqan Sheikh said.

    The United States and Pakistan have a history of military cooperation. Pakistan receives around 80 percent of its weapons from its Western ally, and the US State Department's approval of a new defense deal has a huge significance for their ties and for security in South Asia, the officer emphasized.

    ORF's Nandan Unnikrishnan agreed that the United States is a "traditional ally" of Pakistan, so their defense agreement did not come as a surprise to India.

    "This is not an unexpected development and given the current security situation in the region, particularly the development in Afghanistan, the Indian strategy community expected this to happen," he admitted.

    The United States has been competing for the Asian weapons market with two other large arms sellers, Russia and China. Islamabad is currently working on a deal to buy submarines from China worth billions of dollars.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    weapons, India, Pakistan, United States
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