WASHINGTON - The United States has approved sale of 160 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, designed specifically to withstand improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, to Pakistan for an estimated cost of $198 million, saying the South Asian country is “vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia.”

The State Department’s approval came as Pakistan military is conducting full-scale anti-terrorist operations in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency.

Following the State Department’s determination approving the sale, a Press release said, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Friday.

“Pakistan requested a sale of 160 Navistar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles including 110 MaxxPro Dash DXM, 30 MaxxPro Base DXM, 10 MaxxPro Dash DXM Ambulances, and 10 MaxxPro Recovery Vehicles with protection kits, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and equipment training, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.

“The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

The proposed sale of MRAPs will ensure that Pakistan can effectively operate in hazardous areas in a safe, enhanced survivability vehicle, and improves Pakistan’s interoperability with US forces.

“By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will be able to provide the same level of protection for its own forces as the United States provides for its forces.

“Pakistan, which currently possesses MRAPS, has successfully demonstrated the ability to operate and maintain the vehicles in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, and will have no difficulty absorbing these additional vehicles into its armed forces,” the DSCA noted.

It also said “the proposed sale of this equipment and support will not affect the basic military balance in the region.”