Pak-US ties facing deadlock: Sartaj

WEB DESK: The Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Thursday admitted that the US dropped the subsidy on sale of F-16 fighter planes due to an active lobbying of India in Washington.

In a policy statement in Senate, he said that there would be no compromise on national security and priorities in the conduct of foreign relations. “The government is pursuing the issue of F-16s with US at different levels and forums,” he added.

Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari and some others had moved an adjournment motion on withdrawal of proposed subsidy on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan by the Obama administration.

“There were two aspect of the deal – one was permission of sale to Pakistan and the other was of its financing,” he said, adding, “The US Congress agreed for sale [of F16 jets] after assurance by the Obama administration that these planes were necessary for counter terrorism operations but the US Congress blocked the subsidy”.

Aziz said that in October 2015, Pakistan had reached an understanding with the US to buy 8 x Block-52 F-16 Planes worth $699 million. Adding under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270 million from its national funds, while the US was supposed to provide the rest, ie $429 million from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF).

The adviser said that the Pak-US relations were facing a deadlock at the moment because of the latter’s certain demand, adding, “We’ve told US that Pakistan would not compromise on its nuclear programme”.

He said that we had not made any commitment with US to release Dr Shakeel Afridi – a Pakistani physician, currently imprisoned, for helping CIA in running a fake hepatitis vaccine programme in Abbottabad to confirm Osama bin Laden’s presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples.

According to the adviser, Pakistan could not meet US demand about taking action against the Haqqani network as it had not provided any concrete evidence against the militant group.

“Besides, the ongoing election campaign in the US is also one of reasons for bad relations between the two countries,” he added. There was a stalemate on reconciliation talks with Taliban due to recent severe terrorist attack in Kabul during the spring offensive, he said, but the US has been told to give it some time.

Aziz said that Pakistan faced many ups and downs with regard to its relations with the US during the last 70 years. At an earlier stage, he said that India was in Russia’s camp due to which Pakistan had no option but to join the US camp.

“We have got to move ahead these relations practically but they are affected because of different reasons including the Wikileaks, the Salala incident and the Abbottabad incident, etc, but now they are on an upper trajectory,” he added.

After the advisor’s statement, chairman Senate Raza Rabbani said: “Senate of Pakistan, being the symbol of federation, will take steps for Pakistan’s national interest as the US Congress took steps for its national interest.”

He referred the matter of withdrawal of subsidy to Senate Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs and Defence. He ruled that both the committees would hold a joint meeting co-chaired by both two chairmen and report at least once in every session about progress on the issue.

“Senate would revisit its earlier invitation extended to chairman of US Senate to Pakistan in the light of these reports,” he added.

The joint opposition continued its boycott of the house in protest against absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Senate for the forth consecutive day.

The government lawmakers demanded registration of an FIR against former military president General Pervez Musharraf and some leaders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for their alleged involvement in the May12 carnage in Karachi in 2007.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), speaking on a point of public importance, said that Mustafa Kamal of the newly formed Pak Sarzameen Party, should a hold press conference and tell facts to the nation about the role of MQM in these killings, as he himself was then part of that sinister game. – Business Recorder