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Pakistan raises issue of F-16 sale with visiting US commander

Pakistan raises issue of F-16 sale with visiting US commander

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday raised the unresolved issue of F-16 sale to Pakistan and expressed concern with the visiting commander of US Central Command (Centcom) General Joseph Votel.

Secretary Defence Gen (r) Alam Khattak reiterated Pakistan’s need for the F-16 jets, and impressed upon the visiting Centcom commander the jet’s utility in the war against terror.

Khattak on the occasion also enquired about the status of roadmap regarding future reimbursement mechanism in lieu of Coalition Support Fund (CSF) beyond 2016.

Pakistan’s ambassador to US, Jalil Abbas Jilani, has intensified lobbying efforts at Capitol Hill to try and convince US Congress to release funds for the purchase of F-16 jets.

"I am holding frequent meetings with congressmen to convince them that these jets would only be used in the ongoing war against terrorism", Ambassador Jilani told Dawn News from Washington.

The ambassador lamented that multiple lobbies are working against Pakistani interests, and it is difficult to counter them with meager resources.

Ambassador Jilani added in principle the US administration has no objection on the supply of jets to Pakistan, but the Indian lobby at capitol hill is engaged in efforts to block the supply of the 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 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund.

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.

Among the key reasons behind the Congressional hold are concerns that Pakistan has not taken enough action against the Haqqani network; jail sentence for Dr Shakeel Afridi — the physician who had cooperated with the US in tracking Osama bin Laden; and fears about Pakistani nuclear programme.

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