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Pakistan trying to crack a fresh helicopter deal with the US!

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News analysis|

Pakistan is trying to crack a new deal to reacquire an unspecified number of helicopters to carry out anti-narcotics operations in FATA and Balochistan. After returning four earlier this month, Pakistan on Monday returned five of the nine Huey II helicopters it received as part of a deal in 2002.

Pakistan received 12 planes in the deal which included 3 Cessna Airplanes. Primarily geared against the smuggling of narcotics, the planes also were used for surveillance in FATA and Balochistan during counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

The availability of special operational equipment, allow it to carry out insertion/extraction, patrol, and other tactical operations.

Pakistan had the option of returning or buying the planes after the expiry of the indenture; it exercised the later. However, Islamabad did buy the three Cessna planes. With the US having already redirected the Huey II choppers for sale to a third party, Pakistan will have to crack a new deal.

The need to renegotiate the deal was felt by the new interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal who conveyed Islamabad’s embassy in Washington to work out the contours of the deal for his ministry. Iqbal’s predecessor, Chaudhary Nisar, who was often found to be reticent of excessive foreign footprints in his ministry might have pushed against the deal.

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Iqbal sees security as an all-encompassing concept and is cognizant of the critical link between narcotics and terror-financing. The desire to acquire these choppers can be seen as part of the new wave of cooperation between the two countries to choke and hunt terrorists.

Diplomatic sources are confident that an agreement will be reached as the US is mindful of the close link between narcotics and terror-financing.

Watchers are conscious of the fact that despite the very many differences, the US and Pakistan have stepped up cooperation to root out terrorism from the troubled Af-Pak border region. Choking narcotics smuggling will go a long way in denying miscreants the ability to effectively launch attacks. Iqbal is well aware that this falls under the ambit of his ministry.

Diplomatic sources are confident that an agreement will be reached as the US is mindful of the close link between narcotics and terror-financing.

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The Bell Huey II helicopters are ideal for search and rescue operations. It is also suited to carry out other operations with the helicopter having the ability to configure according to various mission needs. The availability of special operational equipment, allow it to carry out insertion/extraction, patrol, and other tactical operations.

Pakistan is trying to crack a new deal to reacquire an unspecified number of helicopters to carry out anti-narcotics operations in FATA and Balochistan.

The US sold 24 Bell helicopters to Mexico for its anti-drug drive.The country is expanding its fleet to locate, spray and eradicate marijuana and poppy plantations usually located in the mountainous regions of Mexico.

Given the fact that the remnants of terrorists, albeit far and few are located in the rugged and mountainous terrain of the Af-Pak border, these helicopters could really help Pakistan in pulling the plug on the thriving narcotics trade.


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