China Giving Pakistan 50 Fighter Jets

Just in case you didn’t think there was already reason enough to be concerned about Pakistan, here’s about 50 more:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — China has agreed to immediately provide 50 JF-17 fighter jets to Pakistan, a major outcome of a visit by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to Beijing this week, Pakistani officials said Thursday.

China and Pakistan have jointly produced the JF-17 aircraft, but the new planes would be equipped with more sophisticated avionics, the officials said. The latest jet fighters would be paid for by China, they said.

The announcement came as Pakistan’s already tense relations with the United States soured further after the killing of Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan on May 2.

Last week, Pakistan’s spy chief denounced the United States in a rare briefing before Parliament in which he condemned the American raid for breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty. Parliament, in turn, called for the government to revisit relations with the United States.

Mr. Gilani’s visit to Beijing served as a pointed reminder of Pakistani suggestions that the government might seek to recalibrate relations with the United States, using China to offset what many here view as an overdependence on Washington.

The United States has provided Pakistan with some $20 billion in aid, mostly military, for its cooperation in fighting terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Much of that aid has come in the form of reimbursements for Pakistani counterterrorism operations.

Both the aid and the effectiveness of Pakistan’s cooperation have been called into question by the discovery that Bin Laden had lived for years in a large compound adjacent to a top military academy in the city of Abbottabad, a two-hour drive from the capital, Islamabad.

While the Obama administration would still like Pakistan’s cooperation to wind down the war in Afghanistan and to root out terrorist groups, some American lawmakers are now calling for aid to Pakistan to be cut or suspended.

For their part, Pakistani officials were incensed that the Obama administration gave them no notice of the raid until helicopters bearing a Navy Seal team had already left the country.

Mr. Gilani’s four-day visit to China may help Pakistan as it tries to regain leverage with the United States. During his visit, Mr. Gilani met with Premier Wen Jiabao of China, who bolstered Pakistan by saying the United States should respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The news about the JF-17 aircraft is clearly a signal that Pakistan is shopping for alternatives to Washington, though the value of the deal may be more symbolic than decisive in terms of Pakistan’s military capacity.

Nonetheless, were I an official in Washington, or New Dehli, I would be looking at this with at least a little bit of concern.


FILED UNDER: Asia, Terrorism, World Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. carlos says:

    Why so concerned? Is pakistan next to the unites states?
    If china was at war with iceland and they mounted an operation to enter canada with helicopters to secretly to kill X your country would have reacted the same way multiplied by 10.

  2. Southern Hoosier says:

    Pakistan has to spend the foreign aid that we give them on something.

  3. Southern Hoosier says:

    carlos says: Friday, May 20, 2011 at 15:43

    Why so concerned?

    India and Pakistan are not on friendly terms and both have nuclear weapons.

  4. @Southern Hoosier:

    You spend more in a month in Afghanistan then you give in aid to Pakistan in a year. Pakistan is buying the planes on soft loans from China, not from American aid.


  5. Southern Hoosier says:

    @ JF-17 Thunder

    But in other spheres the degree of success was limited. In response to a request from Mr Gilani, China made clear it would not be able to offer hard cash as financial assistance, though a ‘soft loan’ possibility was discussed. Pakistan was also told it could not sell the JF-17 aircraft jointly produced with China for at least 10 years after purchase.

  6. Southern Hoosier says:

    JF-17 Thunder says:Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 23:06
    not from American aid.

    You are right, I forgot about 3rd world counties ability to squander the billions we send them.

    The budget 2011-12 is only a week away, the American senators are demanding an aid cutoff and the Ministry of Finance is still shamelessly projecting an unprecedented trillion rupee budgetary deficit.

    Next. Pakistan has no money and no air defence for the 2,640- km-long Durand Line.

  7. Southern Hoosier says:

    Gilani back with a bowl full of promises
    Forgot my source.