US Congress stalls F-16 sale to Pakistan

Washington, Jan 12 (IANS) The US Congress has stalled a planned sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, the Pakistani media reported on Tuesday.

The move reflects the growing anti-Pakistan sentiments on Capitol Hill, Dawn quoted unnamed Congressional and diplomatic sources as saying.

Lawmakers used clarification and information notices to delay the sale, the report said.

The administration also received a “hold” notice from the Senate, using this legislative process to delay floor action on the proposed sale to Pakistan.

But this does not kill the proposed sale, and it can still go through if the administration continues to push for it, Dawn added.

The Obama administration is reported to be keen on selling these aircraft to Pakistan.

At recent Congressional hearings, key US lawmakers raised a host of questions about the end use of the F-16 aircraft and about US relationship with Pakistan.

“I don’t know how an F-16, with all of its hardware on there for combat, can be used for humanitarian aid. If they were buying C-130s … I could see those being used for humanitarian aid. But F-16! It’s not really humanitarian aid,” said Congressman Ted Poe.

“Those F-16s and the military equipment that we are providing Pakistan are being used against their own people, just like they did against the people over there in Bangladesh,” added Congressman Dan Rohrabacher.

Dawn said both lawmakers belong to a growing lobby in Congress which not only oppose arms sales to Pakistan but often urge the US administration to sever its ties with Islamabad.

The Obama administration had informally notified Congress of its intention to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington in October last year.

The administration followed it up with a formal notification of “foreign military financing” to fund the sale in December.

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