Pakistan rejects US conditions over F-16 sale

Islamabad, May 8 (IANS) Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said that the country needs modern F-16 fighter jets for its ongoing war against terrorism but rejects the conditions the US has attached over their sale.

Speaking to journalists, scholars and corporate leaders at a meeting in Islamabad on Saturday, the foreign secretary said no conditions should be attached to the sale of F-16s because Pakistan plans to use the jets only for the purpose of fighting terrorists, Dawn online reported.

The US State Department earlier this week said Pakistan will have to pay from its own funds if it wants to buy F-16 fighter jets, after the US Congress last month withdrew funds for the deal to force Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network.

Chaudhry said diplomatic efforts were underway to convince the Congress to subsidise the sale of the fighter 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 $270 million 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 Shakeel Afridi – the physician who had cooperated with the US in tracking late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden; and fears about Pakistani nuclear programme.

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