ISLAMABAD: Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Thursday said the Indian lobby’s persistent efforts to block the sale of F-16 to Pakistan had been defeated through strong arguments and outreach to the US Congress.
Winding up the debate on the Adjournment Motion moved by Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari and other Senators on sale of F-16 Fighter Jets to Pakistan by the United States Administration, the Adviser said Pakistan had been making extraneous efforts to finalize the deal as promised by the US Administration.
He said Pakistan had forcefully rejected Indian objections to the sale of eight F-16 to Pakistan and drawn attention to the wide ranging defence deals concluded between India and USA during US Defence Secretary’s recent visit to India.
Pakistan has also emphasized the importance of maintaining strategic stability in South Asia.
To assuage US concerns, he said government had been making strides on multiple fronts to keep the US Administration and the Congress members engaged in a dialogue, highlighting Pakistan’s committed efforts and huge sacrifices in confronting the menace of terrorism.
In this regard, visits of two delegations of Senior Staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Relations Committee proved helpful in the final approval for sale of new F-16s to Pakistan by the Congress.
The issue of F-16s will be taken up with concerned US authorities during the Interim Progress Review meeting of 24th Pak-US DCG scheduled to be held from May 30 to June 3 2016 in Washington DC.
Pakistan Ambassador to US Jalil Abbas Jilani has convinced US Congress to release funds for purchase of F-16 Jets which are critical for the success of ongoing war against terrorism.
The proposed sale of 8 new F-16 aircraft to Pakistan has two main elements including approval of the sale in principle and approval of the funding through Foreign Military Finance (FMF) of the US Government.
“While we have already achieved the approval for the sale, the funding issue is still being discussed as the US Congress has turned down the Administration’s proposal for use of FMF facility on this count.
He said in October 2015 Pakistan had reached an understanding with the US to buy eight Blocked F-16 planes of worth US $ 699 million.
Under the deal Pakistan was required to pay about US $ 270 million from its national funds, whereas; US was supposed to provide the rest 429 million from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF).
The US department of defence and department of state is cognizant of Pakistan’s requirements and acknowledges the effectiveness of these jets in the war against terrorists.
He said the Ministry of Defence had forcefully conveyed its standpoint at all levels.
On May 9, 2016, Secretary Defence expressed concerns over the delay in the sale of F-16s to Commander US CENTCOM General Joseph L. Votel during his call.
On April, 19 2016, Minister for Defence has written a letter to Ashton Carter, US Secretary of Defence highlighting the role of PAF and importance of F-16s for Pakistan against war on terror and requested for early resolution of the issue in favour of Pakistan.
While defending the US Administration’s decision for the sale during the public Congressional hearing on 27th April 2016, the US Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), Ambassador Richard Olson, made almost the same points as have been repeatedly advocated by Pakistan.
The US State Department Spokesman has also labelled the objections raised by the Congress concerning use of FMF funds for the sale as “not helpful in the conduct of the US Foreign Policy in the region”.
The fundamental objections raised by some US Congressmen, concerning use of FMF for the sale, are essentially political in nature.
Even though US State Department has been consistently underlining the importance of good relations with Pakistan, there are broader geo-political issues which must be kept in view.
The Chairman in his remarks Wednesday expressed his reservations about the way USA was conducting its relationship with Pakistan.
Highlighting Pak-Us relations, he said Pakistan relations with the United States constitute an important element of foreign, defence and economic policies. This seven-decade old relationship, while robust and wide ranging, is characterized with occasional vicissitudes.