US Senate panel questions Pakistan F-16 deal

F-16

Vindicating India’s stand, Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, has questioned the rationale of the Obama administration’s decision on selling F-16 jets to Pakistan. Echoing India’s concerns, he described it as a threat to US troops as they try to stabilize Afghanistan.

“They continue to support the Taliban, the Haqqani network and give safe haven to al-Qaida,” Mr Corker, who is also a Republican Senator, said to Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr Kerry was testifying to the committee about the state department’s annual budget request.

The US government had earlier approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, radar and other equipment in a deal valued at $699 million on February 12.

US Lawmakers have around 30 days to block the sale of the jets and Mr Corker has made clear he has doubts about it. Mr Kerry, in defence of the government responded by saying that the issue is complicated.   Asserting that Pakistan has been an ally, Mr Kerry said: “I understand your reservations about it but their military has been deeply engaged in the fight against terrorism.”

India had recently objected to this decision of the US and had expressed its displeasure by summoning US envoy to India Richard Verma on this issue. In the wake of growing terror attacks on India, New Delhi had raised concerns with the US that Pakistan could misuse its weapons against India.

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