Despite opposition from its own lawmakers and criticism from India, the United States will go ahead with the sale of eight Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, the US State Department reportedly said Friday. The statement comes after a U.S. Senator introduced a resolution of disapproval over the proposed sale, while another lawmaker called for a hearing on the deal.
The Barack Obama administration maintains the F-16 fighter jets would help Pakistan in its counter-terrorism operations, but Indian authorities expressed concerns that the jets could be used against India.
"We support the proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan to assist Pakistan's counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations. Pakistan's current F-16s have proven critical to the success of these operations to date," U.S. State Department spokesperson Helaena W White was quoted as saying by Dawn.
U.S. lawmakers and military officials have warned that the deal with Pakistan could affect relations with India, and also expressed concerns over Pakistan's alleged support to terror groups.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul introduced Thursday a resolution in the House of Representatives to halt the $699-million arms deal with Pakistan, while Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged for a hearing on the F-16 sale.
"While we give them billions of dollars in aid, we are simultaneously aware of their intelligence and military apparatus assisting the Afghan Taliban," the former reportedly said in the resolution.
Pakistan and the U.S. will Monday hold strategic talks in Washington.
"It's about strengthening security and stability in the region, about increasing trade, looking at the many different problems and threats in the region, including terrorism that we've talked a lot about," Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, said Friday.