Kerry defends F-16 deal with Pak despite resolution

SansadTV Bureau
File photo of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: AP/PTI

File photo of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Photo: AP/PTI

A joint resolution to block the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. This even as US Secretary of State John Kerry defended the move by saying the jets were critical for Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.

“The government of Pakistan has been using weapons from the US to repress its own citizens and especially the people of Baluchistan,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said on Thursday after he introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives.

“The deciding factor of whether to support this joint resolution is, for me, the arrogant and hostile actions taken by the government of Pakistan against the man who helped bring Osama bin Laden to justice,” Rohrabacher added.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration officially announced it would go ahead with the USD 700 million arms deal with Pakistan.

Alleging that Osama bin Laden was a “mass murderer” of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, Rohrabacher said anyone who helped bring him to justice is an “American hero”.

Kerry, however, strongly defended the decision arguing that the 8 nuclear-capable fighter jets are a “critical” part of Pakistan’s fight against terrorists.

“The F-16s have been a critical part of the Pakistani fight against the terrorists in the western part of that country, and have been effective in that fight. And Pakistan has lost some 50,000 people in the last years, including troops, to the terrorists that are threatening Pakistan itself,” Kerry told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

“But we do believe that Pakistan is engaged legitimately in a very tough fight against identifiable terrorists in their country that threaten Pakistan,” he added.

A day earlier, former Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul introduced the joint resolution in the Senate to block sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

It also calls for “prohibiting sale” of other military hardware to Pakistan including eight Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDWES), 14 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS).

The Obama Administration, however, is hopeful that it would be able to overcome legislative challenges to proceed with the sale of F-16.

India too is opposing the sale of F-16s to Pakistan and had lodged a complaint in the matter to the US Ambassador in India.

(With inputs from PTI)