Declassified report says US feared Islamabad may give China access to its weapons
The United States has for long feared that Pakistan, its cold war ally, will breach the trust and pass on its defence technology and weapons to China, a declassified CIA report said.
This betrays the common perception that Pakistan betrayed United States and hosted Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US marines in Abottabad in Pakistan in 2011.
Even at the peak of bilateral relations during the 80s, the United States was certain that Pakistan will give China unauthorised access to American weapons and technology, the 1983 report declassified by the Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), said.
“Major strains in relations with the United States over the nuclear issue or new disputes on arms agreement could undermine Islamabad’s confidence in the United States and threaten the security relationship, possibly causing Pakistan to share US weapons or technology with China,” the report said.
Realising the transactional nature of the US-Pakistan relationship, the report says: “We believe Pakistan will probably safeguard the new US arms it receives to protect the arms supply relationship unless major strains develop in relations with the United States.”
“Even if US-Pakistani relations remain strong, however, there is a risk that China at some point will gain access to Pakistan’s US arm given the intimacy of Pakistan’s ties to China.”
Accepting the strength and depth of the China-Pakistan relationship, the report notes: “Pakistan still considers its relations with China more durable than those with the US.”
“The resolution last winter of the ALR-69 radar warning receiver issue to Zia’s satisfaction and the delivery of the first F-16 has strengthened Islamabad’s faith in the US security relationship,” the report added.
Pakistan purchased 45 F-16 multi-role fighter aircraft, considered one of the best in the world, from the US in the 80s.
The US-Pakistan relation was at its peak in 80s and Pakistan was at the forefront of the US-led war against the Russian forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan played an instrumental role in normalising the diplomatic relations between China and the US.
Pakistan was also one the leading members of the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) during most of the Cold War.