US lawmaker to block deal to sell F-16s to Pakistan
Washington : Describing Pakistan’s activities as “immensely problematic”, a powerful Republican Senator has vowed to block the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to the country that is acting as a “duplicitous partner” and providing safe havens to terror groups.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Bob Corker said he couldn’t allow the Obama administration to use taxpayer funds to support the sale of the jets, given that the terrorist organisations like Haqqani network that attack US troops in Afghanistan enjoy safe havens inside Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal said.
In the letter dated February 9, Corker said Pakistan’s activities are “immensely problematic” and contribute to the notion that Pakistan is a “duplicitous partner, moving sideways rather than forward in resolving regional challenges.”
Corker shot off the angry letter to Kerry after his fifth trip to Afghanistan wherein he had a first-hand experience of the ground realties and attack on US troops from the terrorist organisations based in Pakistan.
The Senator wrote the letter to Kerry, the day on which the Secretary of State in his annual budget sent to the Congress proposed a financial assistance of USD 859.8 million for Pakistan, including USD 265 million for military hardware.
“I do not want US taxpayer dollars going to support these acquisitions,” Corker was quoted as saying by the report.
“While we’re spending tremendous amounts of US dollars and certainly tremendous sacrifice in our men and women in uniform and by other agencies, they are working simultaneously to destabilise Afghanistan,” he said
Another Republican lawmaker yesterday opposed the sale of F-16.
“The pending sale of 8 F-16 aircraft to the Government of Pakistan is deeply troubling,” said Congressman George Holding, Co-chair of the House Caucus on India and Indian-Americans.
Holding said Pakistan has continually proven to be an unreliable and unwilling partner for the US on numerous fronts – chief among them our effort to combat the growing threat of terrorism.
“It is difficult to see how this sale strengthens our national security and more importantly, how this sale would improve stability in the region. I believe this sale requires further assessment by Congress and urge the Administration to suspend any further action on this sale,” Holding said.
The State Department refused to comment on the sale of F-16 to Pakistan.
“As a matter of policy, the Department does not comment on proposed arms sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,” David McKeeby, a Spokesperson for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, said recently.
“We place tremendous importance on our wide-ranging US-India defence partnership which our leaders have recognised as having long-term benefit to not only each other, but the world over,” he said.