The United States on Wednesday said it is up to Pakistan to decide how it wants to fulfill its defence needs.
“It is up to Pakistan to speak to how they will fulfil their defence needs. These are obviously sovereign decisions that Pakistan has to make,” Kirby said during his weekly press briefing.
Kirby’s statement comes a day after Pakistan expressed disappointment over Congress’ unwillingness to fund F-16 sale to Pakistan. Pakistan has indicated it may buy F-16 fighter jets from somewhere else if financing for the state-of-the-art planes is not arranged as Washington told Islamabad it would have to finance the purchase itself.
When asked to comment on Pakistan’s description of US aid as ‘peanuts’, Kirby said, “I would again say that it is an important relationship and we’re going to continue to support that relationship and look for ways to improve our cooperation as best we can.”
“It is a relationship we have absolutely no intention of losing focus on or diminishing in any way,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said when asked if US unwillingness to subsidise the F-16 purchase will affect bilateral relations.
Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, admitted on Tuesday that arranging funds for eight F-16s Pakistan intend to buy from the US was an issue. “The US has decided to sell F-16s to Pakistan. The only issue is now financing,” Aziz told reporters at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).
Pakistan will consult with the suppliers of F-16s regarding the alternates of financing. “If arrangement is made, we will buy F-16s from the US, otherwise we will have to look for planes somewhere else,” he added.
Aziz’s comments came a day after the US State Department said it had asked Pakistan to fund the whole purchase of F-16 fighter jets on its own. “Given Congressional objections, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” spokesperson John Kirby told a weekly press briefing.
Previously, Islamabad was supposed to pay only $270 million while the Obama administration was to pay $430 million in subsidy through the US foreign military financing budget for the fighter jets.
However, during a recent Congressional hearing, US lawmakers made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use American funds for the deal. The decision to stop the subsidy came last week after hearing of a subcommittee on Asia and Pacific of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs.
At the hearing, US lawmakers accused Pakistan of not doing enough to fight militants and expressed concerns that the jets could be used against India while also raising objections to using American taxpayers’ money to fund the sale.