WASHINGTON: Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday defended United States plans to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan saying the latter is an ally and its military has been deeply engaged in the fight against terrorism.
Responding to criticism by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Bob Corker, Kerry said the issue was complicated and Pakistan has been an ally.
“I understand your reservations about it but their military has been deeply engaged in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Corker had sharply questioned the F-16 deal to Pakistan, describing Pakistani actions as threatening US troops as they try to stabilize Afghanistan.
“They continue to support the Taliban, the Haqqani network and give safe haven to al Qaeda,” the Republican senator said to the secretary of state, who was testifying to the committee about the State Department’s annual budget request.
The US government said on Feb 12 it had approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, radar and other equipment in a deal valued at $699 million.
Lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale and Corker has made clear he has doubts about it.