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US issues notification for F-16s sale to Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The U.S. government has formally published federal notification for the sale of eight F16 fighter jets to Pakistan, thus glossing over concerns by India and some lawmakers in the Washington.

According to the notification, “This proposed sale contributes to U.S. goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia,” said the notification which was published, along with a copy of the February 11 letter, which the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote to the House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan.

“The proposed sale improves Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future security threats from terrorists.”

Read here: US Senate committee chairman questions Pakistan F-16 deal

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, said it had notified lawmakers about the possible deal.

The agency said the F-16s would allow Pakistan’s Air Force to operate in all-weather environments and at night, while improving its self-defense capability and bolstering its ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

Lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale, although such action is rare since deals are well-vetted before any formal notification.

Read more: Sale of F-16s to Pakistan should not be of concern to India, says Pentagon

India had expressed its reservation with the U.S. decision. “We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism,” Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry, said on Twitter.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker notified the Obama administration that he would not approve using U.S. funds to pay for the planes through the foreign military financing (FMF) program. That means Pakistan must fund the purchase itself, instead of relying on U.S. funds to cover about 46 percent of the cost.

Corker told Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter that he was concerned about Pakistan’s ties to the Haqqani network, a militant group that U.S. officials have said is behind attacks in Afghanistan.

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