Saturday Apr 30, 2016
ISLAMABAD: The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Tariq Fatemi has stated that F-16s purchase deal with the United States was still intact.
Fatemi’s statement came amid reports that the US Congress had halted Pakistan’s aid for the purchase of F-16s.
The Special Assistant to PM said, “It is the responsibility of the Obama Administration to persuade US Congress over the sale of F-16s to Pakistan.”
He was optimistic Pakistan’s halted aid will be released, saying that talks with US administration in this regard were underway.
Fatemi went on to say that despite limited resources, Pakistan had spent $2 billion in operation against militants within a span of two years. He said ongoing military operation is not only in the interest of Pakistan but also US, Afghanistan and other regional countries are collecting its fruits.
In a daily media briefing on Saturday the US confirmed that some members of the Congress had raised their concerns over the aid for the purchase of F-16s to Pakistan.
US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said, “We believe the F-16s are helpful in Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts, and they have been a part of the successful pushback in past operations against the militant groups.”
However, Toner said, “Some members of Congress have stated their concerns about how to finance F-16s sale to Pakistan.” He said Obama administration has no concerns over sale of F-16s to Pakistan.
To a question, the spokesman said that Congress has put on hold $742 million military aid to Pakistan for F-16s.
A spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Nadeem Hotiana, told the BBC that arms sales were a long process and that he would not comment on the deal’s current status.
“F-16s provide precision strike capability to Pakistan’s ongoing campaign against militancy,” he said. “Pakistan believes that the threat from terrorist networks requires continued capacity building and both governments continue to work together towards this objective through a range of measures, including the sale of these aircraft.”
A senior US State Department official, who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told The News that the Obama administration is still very much in favour of selling the fighter jets to Pakistan as it believes it is in the national interest of the United States. However, Pakistan would have to bear the full cost of the F-16 fighter jets if it wished to proceed, he said.
It is highly unlikely that Pakistan will be willing to pay the full cost of the fighter jets, so it seems to be off for all practical purposes.
The original arrangement had been that Pakistan would pay close to $270 million with the US Foreign Military Financing budget paying for the rest.