The United States will not fund Pakistan's purchase of eight Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets, leaving Islamabad to foot the $700 million bill alone, as per reports emerging on Friday. The U.S. has also put on hold $742 million earmarked for military aid to Pakistan, a U.S. State Department official told BBC Urdu.
The U.S. deal to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan came under much criticism from India and even from several American lawmakers, who warned that the jets may be used against India.
According to a previous arrangement, the U.S. was to provide $430 million while Islamabad was to pay $270 million for the purchase of the fighter jets. The U.S. government, however, took the decision to withhold the money after American Senator Bob Corker, who heads the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, reportedly said he will not approve the U.S. funds to be used for the deal, according to ARY News.
The State Department official told the BBC that even though the Barack Obama government was willing to make the sale of the fighter jets to Pakistan, it was not inclined to use American tax-payers' money for the deal. Congress also reportedly put on hold the $742 million meant to be given in military aid to Pakistan.
While the Obama administration claimed the F-16 jets would be used to boost Pakistan's fight against terrorism, India had raised concerns that the weapons could be used against it. Several U.S. lawmakers also raised similar concerns, with some of them even moving resolutions to block the sale.
"Many members of Congress, including me, seriously question the judgement and timing of such a sale. Additionally, Indo-Pak tensions remain elevated and some question whether the F-16s could ultimately be used against India or other regional powers, rather than the terrorists as Pakistan as asserted," Congressman Matt Salmon had said earlier this week.