The United States has halted financial aid to Pakistan for procurement of its eight F-16 fighter jets, a report said on Friday.
According to BBC Urdu, the Obama administration took the decision after orders by Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
As a result, the government would have to make arrangements for $700 million to purchase eight F-16 from the United States, the notification for which was made by the State Department to the US Congress in late 2015.
“Because of the hold on funding by senators, the US government will not be using any of the taxpayers money to sell F-16s to Pakistan,” the report quoted an unnamed official in the Obama administration as saying.
It was being speculated that the US government would provide around $430 million to Pakistan while about $270 million would be arranged by the government.
During the hearing, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson defended the decision, saying it was is the best interest of the United States.
“The administration is supportive of the F-16 sale to Pakistan,” he said. “The Pakistanis have developed a precision strike capability that they use in the F-16s and a have a right to take out targets.”
Meanwhile, Spokesperson Pakistan embassy in the US, Nadeem Hotiana, in a statement said “America’s F-16 fighter jets have provided precision strike capability to our continuing campaign against militancy, and have proven to be an effective platform during Operation Zarb-e-Azb.”
“The US Administration supports the sale of F-16s to Pakistan. This is in line with bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation that both sides have pursued in mutual benefit,” the communiqué said.
“Pakistan believes threat from terrorist networks requires continued capacity building and both governments continue to work together towards this objective through a range of measures, including sale of these aircraft. The arms’ sale is a long process and we do not comment on its specific status at a point in time,” it added.
On Thursday, US lawmakers had expressed concerns over their government’s decision to sell eight F-16 jets to Pakistan, claiming the aircraft could be used against India instead of terrorists, urging the White House to review its decision.
India had earlier expressed displeasure over the Pentagon’s decision to sell the fighter jets to Pakistan.
“We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan,” spokesperson for India’s external affairs ministry Vikas Swarup had said.