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WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has informed Congress that it is committed to improving Pakistan’s precision strike capability, which is seen as a veiled reference to F-16 fighter jets.

In a document released this week, the US administration told US lawmakers that its Foreign Military Funding (FMF) to Pakistan would focus on seven priority areas “identified and agreed to with the government of Pakistan”.

These include “precision strike; air mobility and combat search and rescue; counter-improvised explosive device and survivability; battlefield communications; night operations; border security; and maritime security/counter-narcotics in support of counter-terrorism aims.”

Pakistani embassy says that despite reservations among some lawmakers, sale of F-16s is on

The document, sent to Congress with the administration’s budget proposals for 2017, identifies these areas as essential to enhancing Pakistan’s counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism capabilities.

“F-16s have proven to be the most potent vehicle for conducting precision strikes against terrorists,” said Nadeem Hotiana, a spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy in Washington while explaining why Islamabad needed the fighter jets.

The embassy acknowledged that there were “some reservations” in Congress about this sale but the deal was still on.

“We understand that the deal has not been blocked. We intend to continue engaging constructively with the US side to address specific concerns,” Mr Hotiana said.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry sent his department’s annual budget to Congress, proposing a financial assistance of $859.8 million for Pakistan, including $265 million for military hardware.

Pakistan says that the military funding is used for countering terrorists who have been using their hideouts on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border to destabilise the entire region.

“Counter-terrorism lies at the heart of cooperation under existing Defence Cooperation Framework between Pakistan and the United States,” Mr Hotiana said. “And the F-16 is an essential tool in this fight.”

Pakistan is trying to buy eight Block 52, F-16 fighters to complete a squadron but faces strong resistance in Congress.

On Wednesday, Republican senator Bob Corker sent a letter to Secretary Kerry describing the proposed sale as “immensely problematic”.

“I do not want US taxpayer dollars going to support these acquisitions,” Mr Corker wrote.

He accused Pakistan of continuing to support the Haqqani Network and working with them to “destabilise Afghanistan”.

Another Republican lawmaker, Congressman George Holding, also opposed the sale, calling Pakistan “an unreliable and unwilling partner” in the war against terrorism. He also said that he did not see how F-16s could help Pakistan’s military operations against terrorists.

Pakistan rejects these objections as “unreasonable” and points out that the F-16s had been “extremely helpful” in the fight.

Pakistani officials say that terrorists hide in civilian areas, which increases the risk of so-called “collateral damage”, civilians getting killed in the fight.

“But the F-16s are so precise that they drastically reduce this collateral damage,” said a Pakistani official who did not want to be identified.

The Pakistan Embassy said that as a frontline state in the war against terror, Pakistan has been “most actively engaged in a sustained military campaign”.

Pakistan’s efforts had received “global recognition and appreciation, including at the senior levels of US Administration”, he added.

“Insinuations of facilitating the destabilising role of Haqqani network in Afghanistan in any way are indeed unfortunate,” Mr Hotiana said.

He said that Congress had also been consistently supportive in building Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capabilities of which “precision strike capability’ is an important pillar”.

Most of those lawmakers who opposed the proposed sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan are also associated with the Indian caucus in Congress.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2016

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Comments (66) Closed

flipflop Feb 12, 2016 07:17am

Weapons, weapons weapons !! Seems like we all want peace and tranquility through killings. It is time that Pakistan should distance it self from all this and focus on the country. As long as people with in the country are not happy there will never be peace. Justice, equality, and human development is the lowest and we expect people to be peaceful. Peace through suppressing people is only short lived.

Omar Feb 12, 2016 07:20am

All of Pakistan is watching how the US behaves. If the United States is not a trustworthy ally they risk losing an old friend and ally that was bore the brunt of their often short sighted foreign policy. Pakistan has much to offer. It might be time to look elsewhere.

UV Feb 12, 2016 08:15am

abuse US for everything...then beg for money, hardware and tech ..... And claim why nobody respects ?

The Outsider Feb 12, 2016 08:24am

If these billions were spent on pens, papers and schools I am sure that generations of extremists would be prevented.

Zak Feb 12, 2016 08:32am

We are no longer satisfied with F16 , we need F35 to win the fight against terrorists , F35 Stealth capability will help us decisively win the war on terror.

Hashim Feb 12, 2016 08:39am

Either they are just making excuses to buy the aircrafts, emphasising the precision strike capabilities of the F-16, or they have found out the short-comings of the JF-17 in this respect, and have concluded that it cannot be relied upon for precision strikes. This says so much why there have not been any orders for the 'Thunder' from any country.

Kedar Feb 12, 2016 09:01am

Seems like the F-16s are on the way.

Cyrus Feb 12, 2016 09:10am

The F-16 is the precision package. A combination of man and machine. A melding of pilot and weapon. The Pak Air Force should not pass up F-16 training. As important the combat rescue training is state of the art. Millions of dollars are invested in training fighter pilots.

sana Feb 12, 2016 09:23am

F35 please , say no to obsolete F16's

Aditya Feb 12, 2016 09:39am

United States giving business to India and arms to Pakistan. I like it.

rehan Feb 12, 2016 09:45am

By now , Pakistan must have a very good idea as to what US "commitments" actually mean!

Sam Feb 12, 2016 09:54am

Why you need a plane that was designed in 70s?

Stealthy Feb 12, 2016 10:08am

@sana We don't really need F-35 since we have no regional rival equipped with a 5G Stealth Fighter. The best option for Pakistan is to seek closer defense ties with Moscow and get it hands on Su-35.

Stealthy Feb 12, 2016 10:11am

@Aditya And that's your reaction after knowing that F-16 sale to Pakistan is still on? Seems like the Indians are going to be pretty much disturbed now because they were very much delighted with the previous unconfirmed reports saying F-16s sale is put on hold. Pity that.

Imran Quraishi Feb 12, 2016 10:13am

Pakistan needs to get the priorities right.

jamshed Feb 12, 2016 10:15am

@Aditya You are not well informed or at least you pretend to,but US is selling $$$billions of dollars of arms to India and the list is long to fit in this space..... for example C-130J, C17, P8 advanced naval aircrafts and much more. BTW India is now number one arms buyer in the world crossing Saudi Arabia by an order of magnitude to fight who? I am sure you will quick to say China. But that is far from truth and 8 F-16 would not make a big difference.

Hashir Feb 12, 2016 10:17am

@Aditya The business you guys are getting and the weapons which we are getting is just rubbish and since nobody is willing to do it for cheap or buy it they are dumping it on us. Let us get out of this dream that we are in good books of US. Go and check how IT people are exploited (atleast majority) in US at the name of H1 if you ever get a chance to work!!. Unless and unitl India and Pakistan don't work together and set aside their differences things will never improve for a common man.

natey Feb 12, 2016 10:27am

cant pak develop with china same precision like this old f-16? sure their technology from 80s n china technology today should be better?

Naim khan Feb 12, 2016 10:28am

Buying fighter jets from USA is a headache for any country, I don't know why we bother about F16 fighter jet, there are other options Su35 from Russia, Chinese fighter jets, Swedish fighter jets. SU35 is far better than f16.

abdul Feb 12, 2016 10:49am

@SAM, It's was introduced in 70s, but it's not the same old 70s machine. This machine has been upgraded year after year and various variants are in the market. F-16 v (viper) is the latest variant that has latest hardware and precision strike capability. Even a machines like jf-17 or Tejas doesn't have these capabilities. F-16 is still being used by many modern air forces like Israel Air Force, Turkish Air Force and even by US Navy.

abdul Feb 12, 2016 10:56am

@NAIM KHAN Su-35 is a twin engine aircraft and the cost of maintaining it is huge and considering half of our economy is serviced by debt(IMF), we cannot afford to keep and maintain such heavy aircrafts. Furthermore, it also gives a very negative signal regarding our ambitions in the region to other countries.

GHAZAL : Feb 12, 2016 10:59am

@Naim khan : problem is Russia is not going to sell it to Pakistan nor they give aid

Haris Feb 12, 2016 11:12am

@Sam The saying goes, "Old is Gold". Pakistan won't mind even if it acquired one of the decommissioned Black Bird SR-71 which was designed in the 1960's.

Faisal Bajwa Feb 12, 2016 11:14am

We have so much junk, what's 8 jet gonna do.

Faraz Feb 12, 2016 11:21am

We shouldn't have to justify ourselves to get 70s technology! just go to Russia and get the Su-35; the Americans will automatically come knocking on the door for business.

Desi Dimag Feb 12, 2016 11:23am

Enmity with India will ruin Pakistan.

Kedar Feb 12, 2016 11:24am

The above article mentions that F-16s are meant for use against terrorists.

I am amused to see some commentators are asking for F-35.

I wonder whether why F-16s will be unable to take on terrorists ?

irfan Feb 12, 2016 11:40am

@Aditya India is enjoying Pakistan status of 60 to 80's with USA .

MN Feb 12, 2016 11:41am

What about the huge collateral damage happening because of these machines in the tribal areas?

ah Feb 12, 2016 11:48am

@Desi Dimag Actually, the case is; its otherwise!

babu Feb 12, 2016 12:05pm

pak needs f35 and su 35 to fight bad Taliban. So it is in the interest of Russia and usa to give pak these aircrafts free.

shumayel Feb 12, 2016 12:24pm

Yet another Indian failure.

A Shah Feb 12, 2016 12:28pm

How about using this money for education? Investment? Power generation? We have our priorities all wrong

raja Feb 12, 2016 12:38pm

Says a lot about the ability of the chinese jf17

Desi Dimag Feb 12, 2016 12:43pm

@ah No, actually India is taking advantage.

james Feb 12, 2016 12:48pm

@Sam it is upgraded f16 not the same . Otherwise Pakistan has old f16 .

james Feb 12, 2016 12:48pm

@natey jf 17 is basically f16.....

james Feb 12, 2016 12:50pm

@babu non of them r giving anyone anything free Pakistan is paying for it

Amused Audience Feb 12, 2016 01:01pm

Pakistan Air Force has played a silent yet major role in destroying TTP targets. This war would have dragged for years had PAF not been able to strike enemy very hard and F-16 proved an excellent platform to decimate their command and control centers.

Awan Feb 12, 2016 01:09pm

India is going to buy 36 Rafale jets and they have problem with 8 F-16s. Such hypocrites.

Vectra Feb 12, 2016 01:12pm

@abdul "F-16 v (viper) is the latest variant that has latest hardware and precision strike capability. Even a machines like jf-17 or Tejas doesn't have these capabilities"

Some facts : hope this can help

LCA control laws (CLAW) is better than F-16 as per Pentagon Test pilot "F-16 flies better with LCA control laws - Pentagon Test pilot."

You are probably right Jf-17 doesn't yet not have precision strike capability but LCA Tejas do have precision strike capability as LCA Tejas is fitted with laser guided munitions with the guidance of Litening Laser Targeting Pod. Note--Litening Laser Targeting Pod is must for any precision strike capability which currently Jf-17 lacks.Without it precision strike capability is not possible.

AS Feb 12, 2016 03:11pm

Apart from proving itself in precision air strikes and close air support, the F-16 is also a proven dogfighter capable of bringing down almost any airplane.

Khwarezmi Feb 12, 2016 03:41pm

PLEASE, let go of the F-16s. There are other good & less controvercial fighters out there.

Perception is everything in the 21st century and PAF officers behind this F-16 drive should be held responsible for their limited brainpower and lack of imagination!

Real Pakistani Feb 12, 2016 03:45pm

Most of the lawmakers opposed to sale of F-16 to Pakistan are associated with the Indian caucus in Congress. Shocking. Never would have imagined that.

fahd Feb 12, 2016 04:00pm

@flipflop you are right. pak should get rid of all weapons, stop development of the armed forces and let taliban and daesh take full control of the country.

fahd Feb 12, 2016 04:03pm

@Hashim F-16s and JF- 17 have different roles to play. no air force relies entirely on single type of front line fighter.

RAJA CHILL Feb 12, 2016 04:07pm

Just be aware of spying and jamming machinery in their cockpits. There was a news that americans were having all live vedios in thier control rooms from planes and drones supplied to Israel.

fahd Feb 12, 2016 04:07pm

@Sam there is a difference of day and night between the f-16 of 70s and those of 2015. the americans still are using it and are unable to find it's satisfactory replace.

Irfan Baloch Feb 12, 2016 04:09pm

Indians need to "DO MORE" in their payments to these law Makers. looks like the previous bribes have gone to a waste

fahd Feb 12, 2016 04:11pm

@A Shah i guess syria and libya did so. the whole world knows the importance of defence forces. this is a real world and not an ideal world.

fahd Feb 12, 2016 04:14pm

@Vectra please dont bring the late combat air craft every where. even the IAF was worried when the modi govt pushed IAF to induct the junk

Younus Feb 12, 2016 05:09pm

I think Pakistani politician are most irresponsible for there country in the world. Pakistan have 200 millione people. huge Natural resource, Talented young generation. But evereything are dependend on USA,China. USA,China, Russia Never want Pakistan be Powerfull country. they want Pakistan begging to there and they beg and interfere in there country. problem in syriya whice is Muslim country but want to solution from USA,Russia. If Pak, Iran Turkey Egypt, Saudi, Indonesia want they can solved. Please OIC kick off USA From ME,Afghanistan and try to solve ur problem by Own.

NHA Feb 12, 2016 05:44pm

@UV . Indians are leveraging their assets in US against Pak. But US must understand and appreciate Pak's defence requirement and not be misled by lobbies of vested interests.

Mistreating a long time ally trivialises the relationship. This is also the cause of dislike of US in Pakistan. People still remember Pressler Amendment and the unnecessary embargoes.

Chairman US Senate is a wise man and hope will soon withdraw his reservation. May add that India will not be of any help in containing China if that is the purpose of giving favours to the Indians.

Indians have not fought a war for long and have no motivation to fight one for the US.

Shehzad Feb 12, 2016 06:05pm

Remember how our Indian friends got over excited at the news that the US congress would block the sale of F16s.

F16s and JF17s perform different roles in PAF. These 2 aircrafts will become the main stay of PAF with Mirages, F7s, A5s retiring.

Aleem Feb 12, 2016 06:42pm

@UV Nobody is begging the US for money. Its about the release of the F-16s. Except the 14 used F-16s that the US gave to Pakistan free of cost, Pakistan has paid out of its own national budget for each and every F-16 (which number 76 now). Pakistan would even pay for the 8 discussed here.

Bobb Mack Feb 12, 2016 06:51pm

@RAJA CHILL Pakistanis are well aware of this hypothetical possibility and are comfortable dealing with appropriate measures. So Indians' wish of F16 being jammed is unlikely to materialise.

Yousuf Feb 12, 2016 07:05pm

@Aditya Very well said...everywhere countries are signing business deals and Pakistan still just concentrating on buying weapons. How stupid!! Burning hard earned money of common people on weapons. If army/ govt is really serious about terrorism then Abdul Aziz and many others like him would be inside the jail . Just a worst friends have we got as America and UK,

Sasa Feb 12, 2016 07:27pm

JF-17 is the best aircraft in the world. It is ultimate fighting machine. Why is the fuss about F-16? F-35 is not proven yet, it has a lot of problem. Don't worry, be happy.

Vijay Feb 12, 2016 07:45pm

@Omar Why would the US or Russia care what third world nations thinks about it?

Kedar Feb 12, 2016 08:06pm

@Awan Dear friend you are an ignorant of the world around you. Indian airforce is already short of the minimum number of squadrons it should maintain. Rafale is for this requirement.

We don't buy aircrafts under guise of fighting some bad taliban. We buy them to ensure that the enemy does not cast evil eye on our sovereignty.

Mustafa R. Feb 12, 2016 08:36pm

These senators need to get it through their heads that US does not support Pakistan because it likes Pakistan but because it needs Pakistan. These senators have spent $800 Billion losing the war in Afghanistan, for a few billion more Pakistan can put a facade of an agreement on this defeat. This facade could be beneficial to US in their conflict with Russia in Ukraine and Syria.

Ali Feb 12, 2016 08:51pm

Pakistan Air Force has flown F-16s for over 30 years and has 80 in its inventory. This aircraft is required for night precision strikes on fleeting terrorist targets in the rugged mountains straddling Pakistan-Afghan border. Besides F-16s, the other suitable aircraft would be armed Predator drones, they should be provided to PAF.

During President Musharraf's tenure, US government and Congress approved the sale of 36 F-16 Block 50/52 to the PAF. Unfortunately, due to the massive earthquake in Pakistan, the government needed and diverted funds for earthquake relief. PAF had accepted 18 jets at that time, with the remaining jets to be acquired later.

The PAF is getting 8 F-16s of previously approved sale, remaining 10 will be acquired even later. Therefore, there is no need to get approval on an already "approved" sale. The fuss created by some politicians in Washington is unfair and unjustified. The Obama Administration will not surrender to the machinations of the Indian lobby.

Mohammad Fida Feb 12, 2016 09:25pm

He is not trustworthy and she is ....would not work till we are ourselves trustworthy in peace and prosperity. This sounds a good omen to modernize the air force but I think a huge step need to be taken to destroy and dismantle all illegal groups sects nationalists narrow minded progressive...restoring the people's confidence in the govt and restoring the writ of government in the area. When you say it is 'war on terror' then got to take emergency steps with summary courts but last week those arrested for killing 140 students in classes got stay order on their execution. This weakens people faith in the govt.

Zeeshan Feb 12, 2016 11:14pm

F-16 is still the best aircraft out there. Majority of the world's best air force fly it. Period!

Rohit Feb 15, 2016 12:05am

By reading all these news, I am reminded of the story of fight between 2 cats for a bread and a monkey as mediator. Everyone know who got the bread. Do I need to say more ?

Pak Patriot Feb 15, 2016 04:20am

The Pakistan govt needs Apache helicopters and heavy-lifting Chinook choppers. These flying machines are required for precision gunnery and choppers for troops. Surely the US can handover gratis the above to the PAF after leaving Afghanistan. This is a very small gift to Pakistan for it's service and support during the afghan war. After all Pakistan has been wrecked due to the fall out of this war and it's economy has taken a hit in the $ Billions.