Washington: In a development signalling major relief for Pakistan in the F-16 jet deal with the United States, the Barack Obama-led government has made a case with the Congress of using Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funds in the deal, as it would serve in America’s national interest.
When asked if the government does not agree with the concerns expressed by the Congress over the matter of using American funds in the deal, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said in a press briefing that a case has been made for FMF funds to be used, as it was important to maintain the flexibility to provide assistance to Pakistan that advances U.S. interest.
“We’ve made the case that we continue to support the proposed sale of these eight F-16s to Pakistan to assist in Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. We believe that these F-16s have supported these kinds of operations to date. We think that they reduce the ability of certain militant groups to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven for terrorism and a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan,” Toner said.
He further added that preventing those kinds of groups from establishing foothold in Pakistan is clearly not only Islamabad’s interest but also in the national interest of Afghanistan.
However, he asserted that key members of Congress have made it clear that they object to using FMF funds to support this sale, which is why Pakistan has been advised to put forward national funds for the purchase.
When asked if the government can veto Congress actions for the release of fund, Toner said, “Well, in the balance of power, if you will, in the United States, in checks and balances, Congress does not control the purse strings. We have argued or made the case to Congress why we believe that the purchase of these F-16s is in our national interest. We’ll continue to make that case.”
Pakistan had reached an understanding with the US for buying eight F-16 planes in which Pakistan was required to pay about $270m from its national funds and the US was supposed to provide the rest from its FMF fund.
But the US lawmakers made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use US funds for the deal.
This latest development has almost put the deal to a standstill as Pakistan may find it difficult to buy the planes at two and a half times more than the agreed price. (ANI)