US lawmaker blocks sale of subsidised F-16s to Pakistan

Published: February 11, 2016
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A file photo of F-16 jet fighter.

A file photo of F-16 jet fighter.

Citing Islamabad’s alleged relationship with a militant group known for targeting US trained security forces in war-torn Afghanistan, a senior US lawmaker has blocked the Obama administration’s subsidised sale of as many as eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

“I cannot allow the Obama administration to use taxpayer funds to support the sale of the jets,” Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told US Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter, according to The Wall Street Journal.

US Congress ‘stalls’ sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan

Naming attacks by Haqqani network on US troops in Afghanistan, Corker alleged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government of providing continuous support to its leaders.

“I do not want US taxpayer dollars going to support these acquisitions,” the senator said in an interview.

“While we’re spending tremendous amount 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 added.

Corker, however, suggested the Pakistani government should be welcome to purchase the advanced fighter jets with its own money.

The planned sale through the US State Department’s foreign military sales programme, announced last year, aims to reward Pakistan for its counter-terror efforts.

In his February 9 letter, written to the US secretary of state, Corker said: “I fully understand that our relationship with Pakistan is both complicated and imperfect. Cooperation with Pakistan is important and has achieved some of our interests.”

Pakistan in talks with US to procure latest F-16 jets: PAF chief

But he said he was using his authority as a committee chairman to object single-handedly to the proposed sale.

“Pakistan’s activities are problematic and contribute to the notion that it is a duplicitous partner, moving sideways rather than forward in resolving regional challenges.”

Meanwhile, Nadeem Hotiana, spokesperson for Pakistani embassy in Washington, said Islamabad has been engaged in a sustained military campaign against terrorism.

“F-16s have proven to be the most potent vehicle for conducting precision strikes against terrorists,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“We understand the deal has not been blocked but there are reservations regarding the financial aspect. We intend to continue engaging constructively with the US side to address specific concerns,” he added.

Officials in the Obama administration said the US has provided technological support to Pakistan to significant effect in the country’s counter-terrorism efforts and has assisted the Pakistan Army to be more effective against militants in the tribal regions but with minimising collateral damage.

US set to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan

“Our relationship with Pakistan is neither about any one system, nor any one capability. We go deeper than that,” said David McKeeby, of the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which oversees foreign military sales.

A Pentagon spokesperson denied discussing the foreign military sales until the Congress is formally notified.

“Our bilateral defence relationship with Pakistan is focused on enhancing counter-terrorism capabilities and improving the military’s ability to deny ungoverned spaces to terrorists that undermine stability in the region,” said Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood.

This article originally appeared on The Wall Street Journal.

Reader Comments (25)

  • G. Din
    Feb 11, 2016 - 6:30PM

    No problem Pakistan has its JF17’s which it cannot unload on any country. Malaysia and Sri Lanka both quickly excused themselves out of the favour.Recommend

  • Azeez
    Feb 11, 2016 - 7:57PM

    Why pakistan need these F-16 , Pakistan had state of the art 9th generation JF-17.Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Feb 11, 2016 - 7:58PM

    When Pakistan is boasting about its Chinese toy JF 17,What is the urgent requirement of F16s?Recommend

  • Raheem
    Feb 11, 2016 - 8:54PM

    These people are part of Indian lobby in the United States and they will never miss a single chance to hurt Pakistan. The fact is that they are on pay roll of India. Recommend

  • curious2
    Feb 11, 2016 - 9:13PM

    Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee has enough clout to delay and maybe kill any Obama efforts to sell F-16’s to Pakistan. Some would argue that “push back” on Pakistan’s long term support of the Haqqani is justified and perhaps overdue.Recommend

  • Abu mokaarim
    Feb 11, 2016 - 9:24PM

    If we can get these extra machines at the original price.
    No problem, we will bill the difference to US elsewhereRecommend

  • NHA
    Feb 11, 2016 - 9:29PM

    Some of the language used by Hon Senator Bob Corker is fed by Indian origin staffers who are damaging US reputation and interests. Just check some reports of recent past done by think tanks and you will find whole lines picked from there.

    As for insurgency in Afghanistan, it will not die down even if US kills half of Pushtoon population and creates problems for adjoining countries. Pak will do what is in its interest and the way it deems fit. Recommend

  • PrasadDeccani
    Feb 11, 2016 - 9:30PM

    @Raheem: Your got that right. So, increase your bid, they will be yours to have.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)
    Feb 11, 2016 - 9:31PM

    It is time to tell the US that we support the Afghan Taliban in their fight for Liberation from the Occupiers.Recommend

  • Fahim
    Feb 11, 2016 - 10:29PM

    5th generation J-31 must be the target of PAF that is nearly at the same cost as F-16Recommend

  • rex minor
    Feb 11, 2016 - 10:37PM

    Over half the population lives under poverty line but its army wants F 16s at a discount price which will be used to suppress its own citizens. A shameful act of arrogance in the face of undernourished children.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Hameed
    Feb 11, 2016 - 11:26PM

    This proves JF-17 is no match for the 40 years ago designed F-16.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Feb 11, 2016 - 11:32PM

    I am surprised a Republican would miss the opportunity for Lockheed Martin to earn money.Recommend

  • Taxpayer.
    Feb 12, 2016 - 12:08AM

    @Ahmed:
    You didn’t read correctly. He said Pakistan is welcome to purchase the planes with their own money. In case you missed, he didn’t want US taxpayer money to fund this purchase.
    This is like asking somebody to buy you a toy and getting angry at them for raises questions. Height of shamelessness. Recommend

  • Azmat Ali
    Feb 12, 2016 - 12:26AM

    @Azeez: 9th Generation? Seriously… Are we talking about a spaceship or something similar?Recommend

  • Aamir - Toronto
    Feb 12, 2016 - 1:17AM

    I’m not sure why Pakistan is still interested in buying the outdated F16’s when we have the ability to develop better fighter jets than F16.

    I think, we should accept the fact that Indian lobby and people like Hussain Haqani will never allow US to sell any military hardware to Pakistan!!!Recommend

  • Aamir - Toronto
    Feb 12, 2016 - 1:17AM

    I’m not sure why Pakistan is still interested in buying the outdated F16’s when we have the ability to develop better fighter jets than F16.

    I think, we should accept the fact that Indian lobby and people like Hussain Haqani will never allow US to sell any military hardware to Pakistan!!!Recommend

  • Feb 12, 2016 - 1:47AM

    F16 is the last combat aircraft Pakistan will buy from western allies,the more US attaches conditions to supply of weaponry,the more it pushes Pakistan into developing its own defence industry,the more US looses its influence over Pakistan,10 years down the line we only read in books about relations between the two countriesRecommend

  • curious2
    Feb 12, 2016 - 1:59AM

    @Azeez:

    Why pakistan need these F-16 ,
    Pakistan had state of the art 9th
    generation JF-17.

    The Pakistani air force has already answered your question. Latest model F-16 is a combat proven workhorse which is why Pakistan and China are having a tough time getting anyone to buy the JF-17.Recommend

  • Sunny
    Feb 12, 2016 - 2:31AM

    Please Pak Government!!! Expel All US diplomats from Pakistan. Recommend

  • Zahid
    Feb 12, 2016 - 3:17AM

    Now Mr. Hussain Haqqni must be very happy to block military hardware to Pakistan, the always against to supply F16 to PakistanRecommend

  • bajwa
    Feb 12, 2016 - 6:30AM

    The real issue would be subsidy, not the planes. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Feb 12, 2016 - 6:33AM

    @Azmat Ali:
    Sarcasm !Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 12, 2016 - 7:23AM

    The JF-17 is almost on par with the F-16.In a way this is good for Pakistan.We can spend that American aid on something else rather than lining the pockets of their defense contractors.Ghis senator forgot who his donor are.Recommend

  • whatever
    Feb 12, 2016 - 7:59AM

    salute to hard working Indian lobby..India has influence to influence even US and UN. Recommend

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