Islamabad still in talks with Washington for F-16s: Sartaj
Islamabad—Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz says Pakistan has conveyed strong message to the United States to maintain balance of power in this region. “Pakistan is still negotiating with the US officials for the purchase of F-16s and we have other options as well”, he added.
He was speaking in a PTV programme. Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan will have to pay $700 million bill for the aircraft by itself.
Originally, Islamabad was supposed to pay around 270 million dollars, whereas the rest of the amount was to be paid by the United States through an FMF subsidy. Without the FMF allocation, the price tag for the eight F-16 fighter aircraft would increase by two-and-a-half times the original cost, after the US Congress blocked funds for Pakistan to purchase F-16 fighter planes and asked to review the price.
We are still negotiating with US officials otherwise we have certain option as well. Pakistan is still focusing on improving its bilateral relations with the United States. We will continue our efforts to resolve the issue.
Defense analyst Lt.Gen. Retd. Talat Masood was of the view that the hurdles in the way F-16 supply to Pakistan are result of Indian involvement through its lobby in US. Anti-Pakistan lobby would try to undermine any deal between Pakistan and other arms selling countries, for which, Pakistan has to be vigilant. JF-17 Thunder is a good alternative of F-16. Pakistan should also consider this as an option.
Senior analyst Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema said The US Congress is blocking the funds without any reason. The Congress has asked Pakistan to fund the whole purchase of F-16 jet fighters on its own. This is the violation of Pak-US agreement. United States has its own national interests with India as it is a big trade market and largest buyer of arms from it.
Senior US-based analyst Dr. Farhat Haq said it caused an embarrassment for Obama administration that Congress has pushed them back from their stance. At the moment, Indian lobby is active in United States. India is taking the advantage of its trade relations with United States.
Senior Analyst Dr. Amna Mehmood was of view that Pakistan has many options, either it can purchase jets from open markets of European countries or it can purchase from Russia. China and Russia could play a vital role to fill the gap of strategic balance.
Security Expert Dr. A. Z. Hilali said F-16 deal was part of agreement between Pakistan and the US.
Washington committed to support Pakistan in its fight against terrorism by providing all types of hardware assistance.
However, may be on the instigation of our neighboring adversaries, US is backing out of its support for Pakistan in its just and global cause of fight against terrorism.—INP