US lawmakers ask Obama to review F-16 sale to Pakistan, echo India’s concerns


Vindicating India’s stand, top US lawmakers have expressed concerns over the Obama Administration’s decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan and argued that the aircraft could be used against India and not necessarily only to combat terrorism. The Obama Administration has been urged to review its decision in this case.

“Many members of Congress, including me seriously question the judgement and timing of such a sale. Additionally, Indo-Pak tensions remain elevated and some question whether the F-16s could ultimately be used against India or other regional powers, rather than the terrorists as Pakistan as asserted,” Congressman Matt Salmon said during a Congressional hearing on April 27.

Several other legislators joined Mr Salmon during the Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan convened by the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wherein the Obama Administration was represented by the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson.

“We’ve got to be concerned what military assistance and whether the F-16s constitute the least expensive, most efficient way for the Pakistani air force to go after the terrorists and the least disruptive weapon system to the balance of power between India and Pakistan,” Congressman Brad Sherman said. “We need to offer to Pakistan those weapon systems well- crafted to go after terrorists and not crafted for a war with India,” Mr Sherman added.

The US Senate is yet to give a green signal to the administration to go ahead with the sale. It has currently put on  hold the decision of the Obama Administration to give eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The jets cost an estimated $700 million. “Pakistan has used terror as a tool of statecraft and terrorist proxy groups, for the Pakistani military have carried out fatal attacks inside India,” Mr Salmon said.

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