As Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq began his first state visit to the United States, the State Department announced yesterday that six advanced F16 fighter-bombers will be on their way shortly to the South Asian nation, following resolution of a dispute over electronic gear.
The six F16s, the first of a 40-plane deal, as well as Zia's visit, are symbolic of a revival of U.S.-Pakistani relations spurred by the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a subject that is expected to loom large in the discussions with Zia.
The Pakistani leader, who seized power in a military coup July 5, 1977, met with Secretary of State George P. Shultz yesterday before Shultz' departure for Europe and has a White House session scheduled with President Reagan today.
The F16s were to have been delivered before the Zia visit, but Pakistani officials balked when they discovered that the planes they were to receive were not equipped with advanced electronic equipment that served Israeli pilots so well in their latest clashes with the Syrian Air Force over Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
U.S. officials said yesterday that the contract for the F16s had included vague language referring to the advanced electronics after U.S. technical negotiators had agreed to specific Pakistani inquiries.