Washington: Accusing Pakistan of playing “double game” with the US, top American lawmakers have questioned the Obama administration’s decision to sell eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to the former.
“I’m concerned that Pakistan continues to play a double game, fighting terrorism that has a direct impact inside the country, and supporting it in places like India and Afghanistan where it believes such a policy furthers its national interests,” Congressman Eliott Engel, Ranking Member of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Thursday.
“So what are we doing about that? How does our assistance support or hinder our hope that Pakistan begins to fight all terrorists?” Engel asked the Secretary of State John Kerry, who was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on his annual budgetary proposals.
Kerry did not respond to the question but in his opening remarks said, “the US is helping Pakistan and Afghanistan to counter violent extremism”.
Congressman Ami Bera, Co-Chair of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans questioned Kerry about the sale of eight F16 multi-role fighter planes to Pakistan. He also emphasised the importance of ensuring that Pakistan is cracking down on terrorists in the country before a “sale can be made”.
“Pakistan must prove it is taking substantive steps to go after all terrorist groups in the country before we move forward with the sale of F16s,” Bera said. “So far, Pakistan has not shown willingness to go after groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is why I cannot support a sale at this time,” he said.
“Furthermore, in the event that we do proceed with a sale, US taxpayers should not subsidise the cost of the F16s. If Pakistan wants to buy the planes they should pay for them,” to Bera said.