WASHINGTON --- The United States has told Pakistan it will have to finance the purchase of U.S. F-16 fighter jets itself after members of the U.S. Congress objected to the use of government funds to pay for them.
The U.S. government said in February it had approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp., as well as radar and other equipment in a deal valued at $699 million.
However, Republican Senator Bob Corker said he would use his power as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to bar the use of any U.S. funds for the deal to send a message to Pakistan that it needed to do more in the war against militants.
Corker’s stance reflected deep unhappiness among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress about what they see as Islamabad’s policy of supporting militant groups that target Afghans and Americans, and Pakistan’s failure to support the reconciliation process for Afghanistan.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said congressional opposition meant funds from the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Financing allocation could not be used to purchase the aircraft.
“Given congressional objections, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” he told a regular news briefing. (end of excerpt)
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