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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 16:33 GMT
Pakistan postpones F-16 purchases

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf says he will postpone the purchase of F-16 fighter planes from the US.

He said Pakistan needed to focus on reconstruction in the wake of the quake that killed more than 70,000 people.

Pakistan had been expected to buy more than 50 planes at up to $40m each. Quake reconstruction is put at $5bn.

The president also accused the West of double standards when it came to giving aid for the earthquake victims, saying they had not given enough.

President Musharraf made his announcement on the F-16 purchase after touring a US army field hospital in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"I am going to postpone that... we want to bring maximum relief and reconstruction efforts," he said.

Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf
Gen Musharraf praised Pakistan's response to the earthquake

Pakistan has long sought the jets but the US only approved the sale in March after years of sanctions concerning Islamabad's nuclear programme.

The F-16 deal has been controversial because long-term rival India believes it will upset the regional balance of power.

Pakistan already has about 30 F-16s, delivered before the US embargo was imposed in 1990, but was anxious to increase its fleet.

India has criticised the sales, saying they will hinder its own peace moves with Pakistan.

Since last year, the nations have been involved in a peace dialogue aimed at resolving the dispute over the divided region of Kashmir, the cause of two conflicts and which both countries claim in its entirety.


Separately, President Musharraf told the BBC in an interview that Pakistan needed more Western aid to rebuild in the aftermath of the quake.

Quake survivors in Muzaffarabad
The UN says there are 15,000 devastated villages

Gen Musharraf accused the world of double standards, saying Pakistan had not received the level of aid given after Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of a donors' conference to raise money for reconstruction, Gen Musharraf called on the international community, the Muslim world and ordinary Pakistanis to give generously.

He also suggested that donations from the West were low because few Western nationals were caught up in the earthquake.

"I would say the damage here is much more [than the tsunami], the magnitude of the calamity here is much more," Gen Musharraf said.

Jan Egeland, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator, described the needs in Pakistani Kashmir as "unique", and called for an aid boost before winter sets in.

Mr Egeland said the UN had received $130m (74m) in donations, but more was urgently needed.

"If people are dead by next year, reconstruction is of no use," he said.

"I've never seen this kind of a logistical nightmare before. We have 15,000 devastated villages."

The president of Pakistan criticises the aid response


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