After F-16 episode, Pakistan says downward slide in US ties
Pakistan acknowledged on Thursday that its relations with the US has seen a “downward slide”, including the move by Congress to block a subsidy for the sale of eight F-16 combat jets.world Updated: May 13, 2016 02:28 IST
Pakistan acknowledged on Thursday that its relations with the US has seen a “downward slide”, including the move by Congress to block a subsidy for the sale of eight F-16 combat jets.
Making a statement during a debate in the Senate or upper house of parliament on the F-16 sale, foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz said the problems in bilateral ties might have been “caused by the concerns raised by the US on the nuclear issue that were categorically rejected by Pakistan”.
Aziz gave an account of Pakistan-US ties in recent years and said relations had come to a “near complete standstill during 2011-2012” because of incidents such as the leak of secret US diplomatic cables and the US raid in Abbottabad that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. However, the relations witnessed an “upward trajectory” since 2013.
“In the past three months, however, this upward trajectory in the relationship has witnessed a downward slide, as reflected in the decision of the US Congress to block partial funding for 8 F-16 aircraft through the use of FMF (Foreign Military Financing),” he said.
The US had recently said Pakistan would have to pay in full if it wanted to go through with the nearly $700 million deal for the F-16s. Pakistan was to get a $429 million subsidy for the jets.
An angry Pakistan has said it will consider other options if it cannot buy the F-16s.
“We have also rejected the frequent demand, specially from the US Congress, for release of Mr Shakil Afridi,” Aziz said, referring to the Pakistani doctor who was arrested on charges of helping the CIA in the hunt for bin Laden.
“The US officials, Congress, think tanks and media, in tandem with our adversaries, have also been blaming Pakistan for supporting the Haqqani Network without providing any concrete evidence to enable us take additional action against the HQN or other terrorist organisations,” he added.
The latest spring offensive by the Afghan Taliban, including the massive attack in Kabul on April 19, “further aggravated the already bleak security situation in Afghanistan”, he said.
“The Afghan Government and the US media have started casting shadows on the Quadrilateral Coordination Group process. Pakistan has been impressing upon the US and Afghan side that the reconciliation process needs to be given a fair chance and more time. Irreconcilable elements can be targeted after concerted efforts of negotiations have failed,” Aziz added.
Aziz also blamed the “US election fever” and ongoing debates during the presidential campaign for “putting considerable pressure on the tricky situation in our region”. He claimed the “Indian lobby in the US” was “highly pro-active in adding fuel to the fire”, especially after the attack on Pathankot airbase.
“We have forcefully rejected Indian objections to the sale of 8 F-16s to Pakistan and drawn attention to the wide-ranging defence deals concluded between India and the US during US defence secretary’s recent visit to India. We have also emphasised the importance of maintaining strategic stability in South Asia,” he said.
Aziz said Pakistan is engaged in a dialogue with American stakeholders to assuage US concerns and is hopeful of maintaining the positive trend in bilateral relations.