Pakistan

Pakistan to get F-16s from elsewhere, if US not funding: Aziz

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will acquire jets from elsewhere if the United States (US) did not fund the purchase of F-16 fighter jets, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Tuesday.

“If the funds were arranged, Pakistan will get the F-16s, otherwise we will opt for jets from some other place,” he said.

The US has told Pakistan it will have to finance the purchase of U.S. F-16 fighters itself after members of the U.S. Congress objected to the use of government funds to pay for them, Reuters news agency reported.

The U.S. government said in February it had approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16s built by Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N, 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.

“Pakistan’s nuclear programme is highly secure and the country is capable of responding to all threats,” Aziz said while addressing  a seminar on “Pakistan’s non-proliferation efforts and strategic export control system” in Islamabad.

The adviser said Pakistan was committed to nuclear security and had been proactively engaged with the international community to promote nuclear safety and security.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan was a peace loving country but it was compelled to have nuclear deterrence in the face of growing threat to its security and integrity after India conducted nuclear tests. He, however, maintained that Pakistan remained committed to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

He said Indian fleet of nuclear submarine and Cold Start doctrine posed serious threats to the region, adding that these developments had forced Pakistan to maintain minimum nuclear deterrence.

Later while talking to media persons, Aziz said Pakistan required these F-16s to combat terrorists. He said though the US had stopped funding for the fighter jets but it was providing annually $265 million to Pakistan.

To a question, the adviser said the quadrilateral coordination group was in contact with the Qatar office of Taliban for the revival of peace process in Afghanistan.

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