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Pak in talks with US to get six surveillance drones

The Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS).

ISLAMABAD (PTI): Amidst differences between Pakistan and the US over the supply of armed drones, a media report Friday said Islamabad is still negotiating a deal with Washington to acquire a fleet of surveillance drones.

Pakistan hopes to get six surveillance drone systems, diplomatic sources told the Dawn newspaper.

The two countries are holding negotiations on the unarmed Shadow-200 system that is used by the US Navy and the Marine Corps.

Pakistan originally wanted weapon-carrying drones but the US turned down the request, saying it had not shared this technology with any other country.

The sources said Pakistan is still demanding "regular drones with onboard weapons and longer surveillance range".

Earlier reports from Washington had said that Pakistan had complained about exorbitant prices for the US drone and a prolonged delivery schedule.

The Pakistani side claimed the Americans had quoted a price that was much higher than the market rate.

The friction over the drones comes at a time when relations between the US and Pakistan have dipped to a new low following the withdrawal of the CIA station chief in Islamabad after he was named in the media.

Some reports have suggested the CIA official's name was leaked by Pakistani security agencies after the current and former Inter-Services Intelligence agency chiefs were named in a lawsuit filed in the US by relatives of Jewish victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

A Shadow-200 system includes a ground station and four drones and costs about USD 40 million. The US would take about 36 to 48 months to deliver one system to Pakistan.

The money for the drones will come from either the Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Fund or the Foreign Military Finances. Pakistan is working out details for purchasing six Shadow-200 systems.

Pakistani negotiators, while complaining about the long delivery wait, said they realised that procedures involved did not allow speedy delivery.

"There's need for Congressional approvals, then there is a cumbersome contracting system and legal wrangles involved in the approval of funds," a diplomatic source told the Dawn.

Though the US has offered to sell the Shadow drones, Pakistan has been insisting that drone technology should be transferred to it.

Pakistani leaders have said that this will enable the country's military to carry out drone attacks in the restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistani leaders claim US drone attacks in the tribal belt are counter-productive and a violation of the country’s sovereignty though observers believe the two sides have a tacit understanding on the missile strikes.


US  Pak  Drone  

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