Washington, Feb 12 (PTI): Notwithstanding American lawmakers’ demand for stopping the proposed sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, a senior Obama administration official said US’ security assistance to the country reduces the ability of militants to use its soil as a safe haven.
“We believe US security assistance to Pakistan actually contributes to their counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
“These operations reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven to carry out terrorist attacks, and as a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan. So we believe these operations are in the interests of both Pakistan and the US and in the interests of the region more broadly,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry has received a letter from Senator Bob Corker in which Corker has said that he would block the sale of F-16s to Pakistan, saying organisations like the Haqqani network, with support from people within the establishment, are using terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan for attacks against US soldiers in Pakistan, Toner said.
“No country in the region has been more touched by terrorism than Pakistan. We believe it is in our vital national security interest to support Pakistan in carrying out its efforts to destroy these terrorist networks.
“We believe it is an important partner in the region in achieving a stable and secure Afghanistan. So and in that regard we would welcome Pakistan’s efforts to support Afghan- led reconciliation talks, for example, they hosted the Heart of Asia ministerial recently and two of the first three meetings of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group,” he said.
Toner said Pakistan has carried out multiple operations against some of these terrorist networks that are operating on their soil.
“We believe that eliminating those networks is in our national security interest, as well as the security interests of the region,” he said while refusing to comment on the proposed sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
“We do not comment on proposed arms sales or transfers, or even our preliminary consultations with the Capitol Hill prior to any formal congressional notification. But we are committed to working with Congress to deliver security assistance to our partners and our allies that we believe furthers US foreign policy interests by building the capacity to meet shared security challenges,” Toner added.