United States, Washington: Yesterday, The United States (US) president, Barack Obama administration notified the Congress that it planned to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The proposed deal will now go through a thirty days notification period after which it will be finalized.
Earlier this week, the US State Department informed Congress that it was committed to improving Pakistan’s precision strike capability, which was seen as a veiled reference to F-16 fighter jets. And on Thursday, a State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said at a news briefing that US weapon sales to Pakistan contributed to the fight against terrorism and furthered America’s foreign policy interests.
The remarks followed a move by some US lawmakers and a campaign in the US media to stop the Obama administration from selling eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Although Congress has delayed the proposed sale, the administration still seems interested in pushing it through, insisting that it’s in vital US interests to do so.
At the State Department news briefing, an Indian journalist asked spokesman Mark Toner if US Secretary of State John Kerry had received a letter Republican Senator Bob Corker sent to him on Tuesday, asking him to stop the proposed sale to Pakistan. “As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on proposed arms sales or transfers or even our preliminary consultations with the Hill, with Capitol Hill, prior to any formal congressional notification,” Mr Toner replied.
But he offered to address the broader issue of US security assistance to Pakistan, saying: “We are committed to working with Congress to deliver security assistance to our partners and our allies that we believe furthers US foreign policy interests by building the capacity to meet shared security challenges.” Responding to another question about terrorists using safe havens inside Pakistan to attack US troops in Afghanistan, Mr Toner said: “We believe US security assistance to Pakistan actually contributes to their counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations”.