Pakistan reconsidering F-16 deal with US


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Pakistan said re-thinking US F-16 deal By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent
2 hours, 29 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistan is reconsidering its plan to buy scores of new and used American-made F-16 fighter jets following the devastating earthquake that killed 53,000 people, U.S. and Pakistani sources said on Tuesday.

The Bush administration was expected to formally notify the U.S. Congress next week of plans to sell the planes but Pakistani sources told Reuters the deal was being rethought.

"Pakistan is at this time in a situation where we are trying to assess the damages caused by the earthquake and how are we going to cope with tragedy," a Pakistani diplomat said.

"The onus would be more on Pakistan whether to go ahead at this time," he said.

A U.S. official said Pakistan was reconsidering the scope and timing of the transfer out of concern for the political and economic impact of making a multibillion dollar arms deal as it still copes with a devastating earthquake that has killed thousands of people.

Pakistan is seeking billions of dollars in relief and reconstruction aid.

The Pakistani diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not suggest the deal would be jettisoned. He said there were many options, including delay. "Everything is open to possibility," he added.

Congress has been informally told of plans to provide the South Asian nuclear state with about 55 new Lockheed Martin planes, 25 used aircraft as well as so-called "mid-life" upgrades that would significantly improve the capability of another 32 jets, sources told Reuters.


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to brief the House of Representatives International Relations Committee in classified session next Wednesday. Congressional sources said they expected her to give formal notification of the sale then or soon after.

After formal notification, Congress has 30 days to pass a resolution of disapproval if it wants to block the sale.

India -- Pakistan's South Asia rival -- and some of its supporters in America question the sale. The U.S. India Political Action Committee, which promoted Indian Americans' concerns, said the deal would encourage a regional arms race.

The group said in a statement that after the earthquake "it is very important to concentrate on the aid relief for the affected people rather than the sale of arms."

But a Pakistani diplomat argued the F-16 deal was a "strategic necessity." "You cannot afford to lower your guard or your defenses. At the same time, you have to cope with the rest of the difficulties of life as well," he said.

The administration last March announced its willingness to sell advanced fighter jets to Pakistan, reversing 15 years of U.S. policy aimed at denying Islamabad because of its nuclear weapons program.

It also allowed sales to India, which wants to buy up to 126 fighters, including the F-16s and several non-U.S. planes.

Washington considers Pakistan a pivotal ally in the war against al Qaeda and is working to develop a strategic partnership with India, the world's largest democracy.

Some experts see the Pakistan F-16 sale as balancing the sweeping July 18 U.S.-India nuclear agreement under which President George W. Bush promised New Delhi access to previously restricted nuclear material.

Lockheed Martin has sold more than 4,400 F16s to the United States and other countries. The firm is scheduled to produce the last F16 in 2008 and has been eager to close the deal with Pakistan in an effort to extend the production line.


"the engineer"
now that's a responsible government at work. a government that put people's wellfare above all else is a good government. f-16s can always be delayed, but people's lives need to be saved now.


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PiSigma said:
now that's a responsible government at work. a government that put people's wellfare above all else is a good government. f-16s can always be delayed, but people's lives need to be saved now.
Exactly. Screw the F-16's and help our Pakistani brothers.