The US is not using the Congressional objections as an excuse to deny Pakistan eight F-16 fighter jets at a subsidised rate, the Obama administration has said. “No, that’s not true,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference when asked if it is just using Congress as an excuse not to give F-16 to Pakistan.
“We have made the case for FMF (foreign military finance) funds to be used (towards sale of F-16s to Pakistan),” Toner said. The Administration, he said, has made the case to the Congress that it continue to support proposed sale of these eight F-16s to Pakistan to assist in Pakistan’s counter-terrorism 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,” he said. “But key members of Congress have made it clear that they object to using foreign military financing funds to support this sale. Given these objections, we’ve told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for the purchase,” he said.
Observing that in the US, in checks and balances, Congress does control the purse strings, Toner said the Administration has argued to Congress why it believes that the purchase of these F-16s is in America’s interest. “We’ll continue to make that case. In the meantime, we’ve offered Pakistan an opportunity to purchase these out of their own funds,” Toner said.