Lawmakers: Pakistan could use F-16s against India, not terrorists

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Several members of Congress are questioning the “judgment and timing” of the Obama administration’s sale of F-16s to Pakistan, saying the Pakistanis could use the jets to attack India rather than the intended purpose of combating terrorism.

The Obama administration plans to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan at an estimated cost of $700 million.

The Obama administration is looking to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan. /U.S. Air Force
The Obama administration is looking to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan. /U.S. Air Force

“Many members of Congress, including me, seriously question the judgment and timing of such a sale,” Rep. Matt Salmon, Arizona Republican, said.

“Additionally, Indo-Pak tensions remain elevated and some question whether the F-16s could ultimately be used against India or other regional powers, rather than the terrorists as Pakistan has asserted.”

Salmon was joined by several other lawmakers who raised concerns over the sale during an April 27 hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan convened by the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We’ve got to be concerned what military assistance and whether the F-16s constitute the least expensive, most efficient way for the Pakistani air force to go after the terrorists and the least disruptive weapon system to the balance of power between India and Pakistan,” Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat, said.

“We need to offer to Pakistan those weapon systems well-crafted to go after terrorists and not crafted for a war with India.”

Salmon added that “despite giving Pakistan enormous amounts of counter-terror assistance over the years, over $25 billion since 9/11, terrorist organizations continue to operate with impunity in Pakistan. Pakistan has used terror as a tool of statecraft and terrorist proxy groups, for the Pakistani military have carried out fatal attacks inside India.”