Islamabad: Following the suspension of US funding for the F-16s deal, the State Department acknowledged that Pakistan needs those aircraft for its antiterrorism activities.
“We believe they’re the right platform to support Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts, and have been a part of the successful pushback, if you will, or in past operations against some of the militant groups that are active in Pakistan,” the department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, said on Saturday.
This rejects a recent claim by some US lawmakers that Pakistan would use the aircraft against India, not the terrorists.
On Friday, another State Department official told Dawn online that senior US lawmakers had refused to provide foreign military financing (FMF) for the eight F-16s Pakistan plans to buy from the US, unless Islamabad takes “some specific actions”.
Without US assistance, Pakistan will have to pay almost $700 million for the aircraft; two-and-a-half times the subsidised cost of $270m.
Tariq Fatemi, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, also said that bringing Congress around to the deal was the (President Barack) Obama administration’s job.
“There is a strong opposition to provide subsidised arms to other countries in the US Congress, but the Obama administration’s offer of military aid to Pakistan still stands,” Fatemi said.
“Pakistan has already rendered great services in the war against terror, so its case is strong.”
Fatemi said that the Pakistan Embassy in Washington was also in touch with key US lawmakers on this issue and he was “hopeful” that Pakistan would receive the FMF funding for the aircraft.