WASHINGTON: The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday sharply questioned US plans to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, questioning Pakistani actions in Afghanistan.

“They continue to support the Taliban, the Haqqani network and give safe haven to Al Qaeda,” Republican Senator Bob Corker said to Secretary of State John Kerry, who was testifying to the committee about the State Department’s annual budget request.

The US government said on Feb 12 it had approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, radar and other equipment in a deal valued at $699 million.

Lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale and Mr Corker has made it clear that he has doubts about it.

Mr Kerry responded by saying the issue was complicated and that Pakistan was an ally.

“I understand your reservations about it but their military has been deeply engaged in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016