US asks Pakistan to have dialogue with neighbours to resolve disputes

At a time when India and Congressmen in the US have been raising questions on President Barack Obama’s decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan, White House has asked Islamabad to have dialogue with its neighbours to resolve disputes. A top State Department official said that the country’s ties in the region have seen “some ups and downs”.

“We do believe, frankly, that Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours and with the region— frankly, there’s been some ups and downs, but we believe it’s trending towards greater dialogue to resolve differences. We want to see that continue,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhury recently met on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in New Delhi in an attempt to revive the stalled dialogue process. Mr Chaudhry pushed for a result-oriented dialogue with India, but stressed that there was no breakthrough in talks with his Indian counterpart on his recent visit to New Delhi. India has made it clear that it wants to see action on terror and Pathankot first before the dialogue could be resumed.

F-16 controversy

Focusing on the issue of sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, Mr Toner said that in the case of transferring arms, the US takes into account regional security and “a range of other factors.” “We believe our security assistance does contribute to a more stable and secure Pakistan and region,” he said.

Justifying the US decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan when there are growing concerns over Pakistan’s domestic situation, Mr Toner said: “We believe the F-16s are the right platform to support Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, and have been a part of the successful pushback or in past operations against some of the militant groups that are active in Pakistan. ”

The Obama administration’s decision to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan under a military grant hit a roadblock as the Senate has raised objections to the decisions and the deal has been put on hold. The US lawmakers have emphasised that they want Pakistan to take concrete action on the ground against the dreaded Haqqani network. They have also objected to use of any taxpayers’ money towards the sale of the F-16s to Pakistan.

“Key members of Congress have been clear they are not prepared to support FMF for the F-16s absent some specific actions. I would direct you to them for anything further on their position,” an unnamed State Department spokesman said.

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