Sale of F-16s: Aizaz rejects US conditions

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Saturday dismissed any condition attached to the sale of F-16 fighter jets from the US, saying it needed the planes for the ongoing counter-terrorism campaign in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to eliminate various militant organisations.

Speaking at an event organised by a media group, Foreign Secretary Chaudhry Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Pakistan needs the modern F-16 fighter jets for its ongoing counter terrorism operations but not at the conditions attached to it.

“Pakistan is valiantly fighting terrorism. We have made notable gains through the operation Zarb-e-Azb and the National Action Plan. Our sacrifices have made the world safer. As for F16, we believe that the US should partner with us in winning our fight against terrorism,” the foreign secretary told Business Recorder in a text message.

Chaudhry further told the audience that diplomatic efforts were still under way to convince the US Congress to subsidise the sale of the fighter jets.

Under an understanding, the US was supposed to provide eight F-16 fighter jets for which Pakistan was required to pay about $270m while the remaining was to be paid by the US from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund.

Referring to the stalled dialogue process between Pakistan and India, he said Pakistan has made it clear to India that the issue of Kashmir cannot be whisked away from the talks, adding whenever there will be talks between the two countries, Kashmir will be on the top of the agenda.

The arrest of Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav from Balochistan has verified India’s involvement, in Pakistan’s internal affairs, he said, adding that we have proofs of India state actors involvement in subversive activities inside Pakistan.

He stressed the need for removing the mistrust between Pakistan and India, as there is a trust deficit which is the main hurdle in improving the relations as well as resolution of other outstanding issues between the two sides.

About the presence of Daesh in Pakistan, he said the militant organisation has no organised presence in Pakistan and only a few people have claimed an association with this terrorist outfit.

However, he said the country’s agencies are on high alert in order to deal with any possible threat, which is why action has been taken against such elements and some arrests were also made.

On peace process in Afghanistan, the foreign secretary rejected the option of using forces against the warring groups in Afghanistan, saying peace talks was the best solution to the problem. He further said that all the warring groups in Afghanistan should shun violence with a view to preparing a conducive environment for negotiations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016