US lawmakers have stopped for the time being the sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan due to concerns over their end use.
This comes just a few days after an audacious attack on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in Indian Punjab. Indian agencies have claimed that they have collected data that ‘establish’ that the attackers were handled by people in Pakistan.
Leading Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported on Tuesday that the US Congress stalled the planned sale of fighter jets, quoting Congressional and diplomatic sources.
The paper said that the lawmakers were concerned over the end use of the jets by Pakistan, and that they have used clarification and information notices to delay their sale.
The Obama administration has also received a “hold” notice from the Senate, the paper reported.
However, the sale of F-16s has been put only on hold and it can still go through if the administration continues to push for it, Dawn said.
The US lawmakers’ move comes at a time when the Obama administration has asked Pakistan to act fast against the perpetrators of the Pathankot attack.
Amid Indian intelligence reports that groups and people within Pakistan planned and executed the strike on the Pathankot airbase, a senior state department official said Pakistan should not come out with lame excuses to shield itself, as has been the case with the Mumbai terrorist attack.
“They (Pakistan) have said publicly that they are going to investigate. They have said publicly that they are not going to discriminate between terrorist groups. We look to see actions to back up those words,” the official added.
Senior US government officials have been in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts in the aftermath of the attacks in Pathankot and Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif, urging them to take the right course of action which, if they do, would not only be a great confidence building measure but would also help improve the relationship with India.
Referring to the outpouring of support for India among the US lawmakers in the aftermath of the Pathankot attack, the officials indicated that in the absence of concrete action by Pakistan against these terrorist groups, it would be a tough call for the Obama administration to push for any new military aid for Pakistan through Congress.
“We understand this is a challenging time. This is a complicated relationship. We do not agree with Pakistan about everything…We look to see actions to back up those words,” the official added.