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Pakistan to buy Chinese F-7 warplanes

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July 3, 2000


ISLAMABAD (AP) - Military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf has said that Pakistan plans to buy Chinese F-7 fighter planes to strengthen its air force, a Pakistani newspaper reported Sunday.


Pakistan needs to modernize its air force, Musharraf told reporters Saturday in the remote Liari area in southwestern Baluchistan province, according to the English-language daily Dawn.


Musharraf had gone to Liari, 120 kilometers (72 miles) west of the southern port city of Karachi, to inaugurate a 640-kilometer (400-mile) highway connecting Karachi with coastal areas to the west.


"We are going to have a deal with China because the government wants to make the air force strong," he said. "We purchase a lot of things from China with whom we have a very old relationship."


But Musharraf gave no other details about the deal. He did not say how many planes would be purchased or when.


China is Pakistan's key supplier of weapons and a strong ally. Chinese aircraft already form a major part of the Pakistan air force.


Also on Sunday, The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence officials say their agencies have told the administration of President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Congress that China is continuing to help Pakistan build long-range missiles that could carry nuclear weapons.


Pakistan and India conducted tit-for-tat underground nuclear explosions in May 1998. The nuclear tests were followed by a series of missile tests by the two countries, sparking fears of a possible 

nuclear conflict in the region.


Pakistan's air force is small compared to the Indian air force. The two neighboring countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.


Last summer, Pakistani and Indian forces also clashed in the disputed region of Kashmir, leading to concern about the possibility of an all-out war between the two nuclear-armed countries.


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