Geneva: The Swiss government has decided to temporarily suspend export licences for anti-air defence systems meant for Pakistan. A cabinet statement on Wednesday said the move has been made because of the current political situation in the country.
A group on the political left forced the government to ask Swiss firm Oerlikon Contraves to suspend sales of 21 Skyguard anti-aircraft defence batteries, valued at SFr136 million ($120 million), to the Pakistani army.
Six of these batteries have already been delivered.
Swiss law bans the sale of war materiel to crisis regions. Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, has been accused of effectively imposing martial law when he declared emergency rule on November 3 - suspending citizens'' rights and rounding up thousands of his opponents. The move prompted Green parliamentarian Josef Lang and others on the left to ask the government to halt export of military supplies to Pakistan.
Neither Oerlikon Contraves, nor its German parent company Rheinmetall has commented on the Swiss government''s decision.
"Article 22 of the law on war materiel states that export is authorised if it does not contravene international law, Swiss foreign policy or its international obligations," said JoŽl Lanfranconi from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).
Seco is responsible, on behalf of the foreign ministry, for evaluating the export of arms.