Washington, DC With the Senate having withheld approval for Obama Administration’s plan to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, US Congressmen yesterday mounted a concerted campaign against the same during the Congressional hearing convened by the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson faced a tough grilling on the intent of the sale and how it was in the best interest of the United States.
At the Congressional hearing, many members of Congress expressed concern at the rationale behind the counter-terror assistance to Pakistan, and asked why terrorist organizations continue to operate with impunity inside Pakistan. Congressman Matt Salmon remarked, “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 has asserted."
Congressman Brad Sherman was concerned about the military assistance and questioned whether the F-16s constituted the least expensive, most efficient way for the Pakistani Air Force to go after the terrorists and the least disruptive weapon system to the balance of power between India and Pakistan. "We need to offer to Pakistan those weapon systems well- crafted to go after terrorists and not crafted for a war with India," Sherman said.
The subcommittee chairperson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen too expressed concerns over the sale. "I think that we need to leverage our military sales to Pakistan in order to get some more cooperation within the region.”
Sanjay Puri, Chairman of USINPAC, remarked, "Pakistan uses terror as a tool of statecraft and terrorist proxy groups, for the Pakistani military. Can anyone guarantee that these F-16s will be not be used for fatal attacks inside India? We need to unequivocally prohibit this sale".
The US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) is the voice of over 3.2 million Indian- Americans and works on issues that concern the community. It supports candidates for local, state and federal office and encourages political participation by the Indian- American community. Visit www.usinpac.com for more details.