Pakistan will have to front the whole bill for its planned purchase of US-built F-16 fighter jets. The US broke the news after the Republican-controlled Congress rejected using government funds to subsidize the buy. Pakistan now has just under a month to come up with the funding.
The US approved the sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan in February, citing the country’s status as a partner in the fight against jihadi terrorists in the region. The deal for the Lockheed Martin-made vehicles also included radar and other supporting equipment valued at just under $700 million.
But conservative lawmakers questioned whether Pakistan deserved such a boon to its fleet. Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, moved to cancel the funding for the sale. Pakistan, he says, is simply not pulling its weight.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, another ranking member of the committee, agreed with the chairman, supporting the notion Pakistan needs to demonstrate “behavioral changes” with both its commitment to fighting terrorism and its often hostile relationship with neighboring India.
THE DAILY TIMES Says Decision Hurts Relations
The Republican controlled Congress has slightly dented US-Pakistan relations by forcing Pakistan to pay the entire amount of fee for procuring one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. This is unfortunate since the bilateral relations had somewhat improved over the years, and Pakistan was also given a central role in the Afghan peace process.
REUTERS Says An Armed Pakistan Is A Helpful Ally
Pakistan’s military says the F-16s it already owns have been integral in fighting the Pakistani Taliban and its allies in the country’s tribal areas, particularly due to the aircraft’s precision strike and night-flying capability.
THE NATION Reports Pakistan Cannot Afford New Planes
The latest announcement practically kills the deal as Pakistan may find it difficult to buy the planes at two and a half times more than the agreed price.
America’s relationship with Pakistan has been consistently complicated. While the country was a key partner during the earlier years of the War on Terror, top US officials believe its government was less than honest regarding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden before the Al Qaeda chief was finally found and killed.
“I believe Pakistan knew,” Democratic presidential candidate and former State Secretary Hillary Clinton said.
US State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Pakistan has been notified Congress cut off funding for the foreign military sale.
“Given congressional objections, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” he said.
Republicans in Congress made the right call in denying Pakistan funding for the F-16s. These planes are highly effective weapons of war with remarkable precision-strike capabilities. Given Pakistan’s sluggish support for US security interests, the government has no business rewarding them with weapons that may be used dishonestly.