Washington, Feb 26 (PTI) A joint resolution to block the sale of eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan has been introduced in the US House of Representatives, even as Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday defended the move, saying it is critical for Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
“The government of Pakistan has been using weapons from the US to repress its own citizens and especially the people of Baluchistan,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said yesterday after he introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives.
“The deciding factor of whether to support this joint resolution is, for me, the arrogant and hostile actions taken by the government of Pakistan against the man who helped bring Osama bin Laden to justice,” Rohrabacher said.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration officially announced it would go ahead with the USD 700 million arms deal with Pakistan.
Alleging that Osama bin Laden was a “mass murderer” of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, Rohrabacher said anyone who helped bring him to justice is an “American hero”.
“The government of Pakistan arrested Shakil Afridi and continues to hold him in a cage. The arrest was a declaration of hostility toward the United States,” he said.
“Our government should not provide military equipment to Pakistan, let alone F-16s, as long as they are holding Afridi.
His continued incarceration is an action which underscores that the government of Pakistan considers itself our enemy, not our friend,” Rohrabacher said.
Kerry, however, strongly defended the decision arguing that these fighter jets are a “critical” part of Pakistan’s fight against terrorists.
“The F-16s have been a critical part of the Pakistani fight against the terrorists in the western part of that country, and have been effective in that fight. And Pakistan has lost some 50,000 people in the last years, including troops, to the terrorists that are threatening Pakistan itself,” Kerry told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.
A day earlier, former Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul introduced the joint resolution in the Senate to block sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
The resolution (SJ Res 30) calls for prohibiting sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, which the State Department had recently notified to the Congress.
It also calls for “prohibiting sale” of other military hardware to Pakistan including eight Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDWES), 14 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS)