Pak rejects conditions on F-16s

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Would ask US to review funding stance: FO

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad—Pakistan has decided to contact the Obama Administration to provide Foreign Military Funds for the purchase of eight F-16 fighter jets stressing the most effective role of F-16s in the ongoing war on terrorism. The latest F-16 jets with precision guided facility minimize chances of collateral damage.
Key members of Congress are objecting to using FMF to support the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The US State Department earlier this week said Pakistan will have to pay from its own funds if it wants to buy F-16 fighter jets, after the US Congress last month withdrew funds for the deal to force Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network.
According to sources, the strong Indian lobby is creating hurdles in the way of sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan but foreign office has decided to pursue negotiations with the United States on the matter to secure the foreign military funds for the purchase of F-16s.
Meanwhile, speaking to journalists, scholars and corporate leaders at a breakfast meeting, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary said Pakistan needs modern F-16 fighter jets for its ongoing war against terrorism but rejects the conditions the United States has attached with their sale. The foreign secretary said no conditions should be attached to the sale of F-16s because Pakistan plans to use the jets only for the purpose of fighting terrorists.
Aizaz Chaudhry said that diplomatic efforts were underway to convince the Congress to subsidise the sale of the fighter jets.
Pakistan had earlier reached an understanding with the US for buying eight F-16 planes. Under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270m from its national funds. The US was supposed to provide the rest from its FMF.
Pakistan has conveyed to the US that it does not have the money to buy F-16 jets from its resources and has cautioned that if the stalemate over funding is not resolved it may consider buying some other fighter aircraft to meet its needs.
Commenting on the stalled dialogue between India and Pakistan, the foreign secretary said Pakistan has made it clear to India that the issue of Kashmir cannot be whisked away from the talks. “Whenever there will be talks between Pakistan and India, Kashmir will remain on top of the agenda,” he said. He said the arrest of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav from Balochistan has verified India’s involvement in Pakistan’s internal affairs. He admitted, however, that there is a trust deficit between Pakistan and India which needs to be removed for better ties between the two nations. The foreign secretary said Daesh has no organised presence in Pakistan, and only a few people have claimed an association with the terrorist organisation.
He said, “Pakistani agencies are on alert in order to deal with any possible threat, which is why action has been taken against such elements.” Chaudhry rejected the option to use military action to curb turmoil in Afghanistan, saying all warring factions in Afghanistan should shun violence and come on the table to negotiate next region.

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