The United States (US) on Monday confirmed media reports that it will not subsidise the proposed sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
Pakistan can still buy them but by paying fully, $699.04 million, according to a Pentagon notice of sale to Congress, requesting 42% subsidy that would have been around $13 million.
Pakistan, which requested them for aiding operations against terrorists at home, specially in its restive northwestern areas, can still have them but at commercial rates.
“We have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” state department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a news briefing on Monday.
Kirby said objections from lawmakers was the main reason: “So while Congress has approved the sale, key members have made it clear that they object to using FMF to support it.”
FMF, which stands for Foreign Military Funding, is a crucial US foreign policy tool used to extend aid to friendly nations to secure their friendship. The F-16 deal was supposed to be one.
The Obama administration has said it endorses Pakistan’s claim that the aircraft will be used to fight terrorists but many lawmakers doubt it.
At a recent congressional hearing Matt Salmon, a Republican congressman, raised questions about F-16s, saying they “could ultimately be used against India or other regional powers”.
India has opposed the subsidised sale too, questioning Pakistan’s claim thst the aircraft will be deployed solely against terrorists, and not, across its eastern border.
Hindustan Times reported his week, based on information from sources, that the Obama administration had decided to drop the subsidy after lawmakers opposed the move.
A state department spokesperson made it official on Monday.