Will get F-16s from elsewhere, Islamabad warns Washington

Islamabad, May 3 (IANS) Pakistan will acquire F-16 fighter jets from elsewhere if the US does not arrange funding for the sale, Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, cautioned the US as both countries lock horns over the purchase of the multirole warplanes.

Pakistan had earlier reached an understanding with the US for buying eight F-16 jets. Under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270 million from its national fund. The US was supposed to provide the rest from its Foreign Military Financing Fund.

But at a congressional hearing, US lawmakers last Wednesday made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use US funds for the deal.

Last Friday, a State Department official told Dawn that Congress had placed a hold on the deal, forbidding the administration from using US funds for enabling Pakistan to buy the warplanes.

On Monday, the department confirmed that Pakistan will have to use its own funds if it wants the planes.

The latest announcement practically kills the deal as Pakistan may find it difficult to buy the planes at a price that is two-and-half times more than previously agreed.

Aziz said Pakistan valued the F-16s for their effectiveness, but said that they could be replaced by JF-17 Thunder jets in its anti-terrorism campaign, Dawn reported.

The JF-17 Thunder fighter jet has been jointly developed by China’s Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and its Pakistani partner, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).

–IANS

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