A prominent US lawmaker has written a letter to the Secretary of State John Kerry advising against the sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan as it allegedly had a continuous relationship with the Haqqani Network — a militant group known for attacking American forces in Afghanistan.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker said in the letter that Pakistan was providing safe havens to the Haqqani Network. He said Pakistan could buy the jets with its own money but he can’t let the subsidized sale to go through.
“I do not want the US taxpayer dollars going to support these acquisitions,” Corker said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal. The senator said he was using his authority as a committee chairman to object single-handedly to the proposed sale. “I fully understand that our relationship with Pakistan is both complicated and imperfect,” Corker wrote in the letter adding, “Cooperation with Pakistan is important and has achieved some of our interests.”
He further said he doesn’t plan to support the deal. “I do not plan to support the expenditure of the very limited Foreign Military Financing account to finance this deal, now or in the future.”
Obama administration officials said the US had provided equipment and technology to Pakistanis “to significant effect” in Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts and had helped the Pakistan military to be more effective against militants in the tribal regions but while minimizing “collateral damage”, according to the US newspaper.
Taking note of the letter to John Kerry, the Pakistan embassy has also responded saying that the “insinuation of facilitating the destabilizing role of Haqqani network in Afghanistan in anyway is indeed unfortunate.”
In a brief response, the embassy spokesperson said counterterrorism lay at the heart of cooperation under the existing Defence Cooperation Framework between Pakistan and the United States.
“The Congress has been consistently supportive on building Pakistan’s counterterrorism capabilities of which ‘precision strike capability’ is an important pillar. F-16s have proven to be the most potent vehicle of conducting prevision strikes against terrorists,” the statement said.
The Pakistan embassy spokesperson added: “We understand that the deal has not been blocked but there are reservations about the financial aspect. We intend to continue engaging constructively with the US side to address specific concerns.”