The Vietnam war doublecross

Long used to portraying itself as a victim of Uncle Sam’s Cold War games, it appears Pakistan played quite a few double games of its own. Recently opened US government archives show Pakistani duplicity of a different era: letting Vietnam-war adversary China take a close look at US warplanes, selling spares to Konfrontasi Indonesia, and not living up to its committments to SEATO.

Pakistan may have given China access to a key US fighter jet at the height of the Vietnam War in a quid-pro-quo transaction that may have endangered the lives of American pilots, according to US government documents recently made public.

“In July 1968 an intelligence source revealed that Chinese technicians had been allowed to examine US-provided F-104 aircraft at Pakistan’s Sargodha Air Base and to collect F-104 spare parts and material samples which were taken back to China for analysis,” Denney wrote to then-secretary of state Dean Rusk.

Citing the same intelligence source, Denney noted that the Chinese had also been allowed to take back home for examination a complete F-104 engine, including key parts of its innovative fuel control system.

Beijing was a crucial ally of Hanoi during the Vietnam War, and intelligence experts believe any information gleaned by the Chinese about the F-104 Starfighter, one of the mainstays in the US Air Force at the time, had likely found its way into Vietnamese hands.

The F-104 episode added to what a top US diplomat called a string of developments in US-Pakistani relations that were “counter to US interests” at the height of the Cold War.

The diplomat, Thomas Hughes, who headed intelligence and research at the State Department, noted in a 1965 secret memo that the record of bilateral ties was “a disappointing one considering the US investment in Pakistan”.[ONE News]

This casts Washington in poor light – if Pakistan has been conning US administrations almost every decade is’nt Washington’s lack of institutional memory and love of expediency a cause for concern?

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