US sale of F-16s to Pakistan hits roadblock


In a major setback for Islamabad, the US Congress has put on hold a planned sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Pakistan has been working towards modernising its fleet of fighter jets.

Expressing concern over the end use of the F-16 fighter jets by Pakistan, US Congress has used clarification and information notices to delay the sale of the combat aircraft. The Obama administration has also received a “hold” notice from the Senate.

While this decision of the US Congress is a setback for Pakistan, the sale of F-16s has been put only on “hold”.  The sale can still go through if the US government continues to push for it.  The decision by the US lawmakers’  comes at a time when the US has asked Pakistan to take strong action against the perpetrators of the Pathankot attacks.
According to an unnamed senior state department official, Pakistan should not come out with lame excuses to shield themselves as has been the case with the Mumbai terrorist attack. “They (Pakistan) have said publicly that they are going to investigate. They have said publicly that they are not going to discriminate between terrorist groups. We look to see actions to back up those words,” the official added.

Pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror

The US has been pressurising Pakistan in the aftermath of the attacks in Pathankot and in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan where the Indian consulate was targeted. The US government has put the onus on Pakistan to take the right course of action.  If Pakistan does take action, it would not only help improve its credibility but it would also help improve its relations with India.

Support for India among the US lawmakers in the backdrop of the Pathankot attacks has been growing.  The failure by Pakistan to take concrete action against these terrorist groups would make it difficult for the Obama administration to push for any new military aid for Pakistan through Congress.

Nearly 20 lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have come out in support of India.

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