The opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML) has declared Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s 5-12 April US visit a failure after she managed only to make slight progress on her demand that the US either deliver 28 F-16 fighters, or return the $600 million Pakistan has paid for them.
After talks with Bhutto on 11 April, US President Clinton said that under US law he could not allow the sale to go forward. He said he would seek modifications from Congress of the Pressler amendment, which blocks all US economic and military sales to Pakistan unless the president is satisfied that it has abandoned its nuclear weapons policy. ‘I don’t think it is right for us to keep the money and the equipment,’ Clinton told reporters. ‘I intend to consult Congress and see what we can do.’
Bhutto also witnessed the signing of a number of planned and potential US investments in the energy sector. However, these too are affected by the Pressler amendment which bars activity in Pakistan by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation which provides political risk insurance.
‘In substance, Benazir Bhutto is coming home empty-handed,’ a PML statement issued on 12 April read. The statement also accused the prime minister of failing to press the US on India’s nuclear programme or gaining White House condemnation of alleged human rights violations by Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region.
However, the US did renew its offer to mediate on Kashmir if both sides requested its intervention. ‘Obviously, if the issue of Kashmir were resolved a lot of these other issues would resolve themselves,’ Clinton said.