US car­rot-and-stick ap­proach

Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion against FMF for F-16s and favours strength­en­ing ties

Pakistan Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Kaswar Klasra

IN a ma­jor blow to Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif’s gov­ern­ment which is al­ready pass­ing through crit­i­cal times fol­low­ing Panama Papers Leaks, the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion, in clear words, con­veyed to Pak­istan re­cently that it was un­able to pro­vide For­eign Mil­i­tary Funds (FMF) for pur­chase of F-16s, sources told Pak­istan Ob­server.

“Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has made it clear to Pak­istan, it was un­able to pro­vide FMF to Pak­istan for pur­chase of state of the art F16s fighter jets,” US-based highly-placed of­fi­cial sources re­vealed to Pak­istan Ob­server on Fri­day. They added that the US State De­part­ment con­veyed it of­fi­cials of Pak­istan Em­bassy in Washington DC that it would no longer sub­si­dize the $700-mil­lion-deal of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pak­istan.

It means that if Pak­istan wishes to buy the fight­ers it would have to pay over $700 mil­lion (two-and-a-half times the sub­si­dized cost).

The de­ci­sion was taken af­ter the US Con­gress, last month, re­fused to sanc­tion fund­ing for the deal.

When con­tacted, of­fi­cials of US State De­part­ment told Pak­istan Ob­server that even Pres­i­dent of United States was un­able to use his ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion or veto pow­ers to counter Con­gress ac­tions for the re­lease of funds.

“Key mem­bers of Con­gress have made it clear that they ob­ject to us­ing FMF funds – for­eign mil­i­tary fi­nanc­ing funds – to sup­port this sale. And as I think John men­tioned the other day or made clear, that given these ob­jec­tions, we’ve told the Pak­ista­nis that they should put for­ward na­tional funds for the pur­chase,” Mr Ton­ner said.

Con­ver­sa­tion with of­fi­cials of US state de­part­ment re­vealed that Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to sup­port the pro­posed sale of these eight F-16s to Pak­istan to as­sist in Pak­istan’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism and coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tions.

Off the record con­ver­sa­tion and back­ground in­ter­views with US state of­fi­cials re­vealed that Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion be­lieves that these F-16s have sup­ported these kinds of op­er­a­tions to date.

“We think that they re­duce the abil­ity of cer­tain mil­i­tant groups to use Pak­istani ter­ri­tory as a safe haven for ter­ror­ism and a base of sup­port for the in­sur­gency in Afghanistan. And so pre­vent­ing those kinds of groups from es­tab­lish­ing that foothold in Pak­istan is clearly in not only Pak­istan’s in­ter­est but also in the na­tional in­ter­est of Afghanistan as well as in the in­ter­est of the regime – or the re­gion, rather,” they said.

For Nawaz Sharif-led gov­ern­ment which has al­ready been pass­ing through test­ing times fol­low­ing Panama leaks which ac­cused Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and his fam­ily for run­ning off­shore com­pa­nies, US State De­part­ment’s re­fusal to pro­vide For­eign mil­i­tary Funds for pur­chase of

F-16 is not less than a bomb shell which has fur­ther cor­nered it.

Many in Pak­istan be­lieve it was a fail­ure of man­agers of Pak­istan’s diplo­macy. Re­port­edly, In­dian lobby in the United States has in­flu­enced Con­gress to hold sale of F-16s to Pak­istan. How­ever, op­po­si­tion par­ties in Pak­istan ar­gued, Pak­istan’s diplo­mats badly failed to evolve a strat­egy to counter In­dian pro­pa­ganda.

“Look, In­dian lobby has done what it was sup­posed to do in their na­tional In­ter­est. But, It was our diplo­mats’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure smooth sup­ply of fighter jets,” said, Rana Mush­taq, for­eign pol­icy ex­pert.

Dis­ap­pointed by the US State de­part­ment’s re­fusal to sub­si­dize the sale of eight fighter jets, Ad­vi­sor to Prime Min­is­ter on For­eign Af­fairs Sar­taj Aziz told me­dia on Thurs­day that Pak­istan has ex­pressed its dis­plea­sure and con­veyed strong mes­sage to the United States to main­tain bal­ance of power in this re­gion. “Pak­istan is still ne­go­ti­at­ing with the US of­fi­cials for the pur­chase of F16s and we have other op­tions as well”, Sir­taj said.

Sir­taj Aziz said Pak­istan was still in touch with USA to sort out ways to make the deal pos­si­ble. How­ever, Pak­istan Ob­server learnt re­li­ably, it was highly un­likely for Pak­istan to get the fighter planes on sub­si­dized rate.

On 21 Oc­to­ber 2015, USA agreed to sell eight F-16s to Pak­istan to fight mil­i­tancy in Pak­istan’s moun­tain­ous re­gion bor­der­ing Afghanistan. Ac­cord­ing to a deal which was reached be­tween the two sides ear­lier, Pak­istan was to pay close to $270m (out of $700m), with the US for­eign mil­i­tary fi­nanc­ing bud­get pay­ing for the rest.

On 12 Jan 2016, The US Con­gress had stalled the sale of eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pak­istan. The US ad­min­is­tra­tion had re­ceived a ‘hold’ or­der from the Se­nate to de­lay the pro­posed sale.

US law­mak­ers had ques­tioned about the end-use of F16 and the US-Pak­istan re­la­tion­ship. How­ever, the Se­nate’s or­der didn’t can­cel the pro­posed sale, and it could be ap­proved if ad­min­is­tra­tion pushed for it.

On 14 Feb 2016, dis­ap­pointed over the US’ de­ci­sion to con­tinue the sale of F-16 fight­ers to Pak­istan, the Cen­tre had sum­moned US Am­bas­sador Richard Verma to ex­press its dis­plea­sure. In­dia was up­set that ap­prov­ing the $700-mil­lion deal meant that In­dia’s protests over the is­sue went dis­re­garded.

Au­thor­i­ties stated that In­dia would take the mat­ter to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion as the deal would strengthen Pak­istan’s abil­ity to at­tack In­dia. Fol­low­ing by the In­dian’s hue and cry, US con­gress in Feb-Mar 2016 dis­ap­proved F16 deal. Con­gress­man Dana Rohrabacher ex­pressed Con­gress’ dis­ap­proval over the F-16 deal with Pak­istan by in­tro­duc­ing a joint res­o­lu­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

In­ter­est­ingly, de­spite op­po­si­tion from In­dia and US law­mak­ers, the US gov­ern­ment had for­mally no­ti­fied about the F16 deal with Pak­istan.

In the fed­eral no­ti­fi­ca­tion, it was stated that the deal would help strengthen the se­cu­rity of a strate­gic South Asian part­ner.

In March, 2016, The US Se­nate had re­jected a bill to with­draw the $700-mil­lion-deal de­spite op­po­si­tion from US law­mak­ers.

Mehran Marri, the UNHRC and EU rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Balochis­tan, had op­posed the US’ de­ci­sion to sell fighter jets to Pak­istan as it might use them against Balochis­tan.

US en­sured that an end-use mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem was put in place so that Pak­istan would use the mil­i­tary-aid to fight ter­ror­ism.

All of a sud­den on 29 Apr 2016, The US State De­part­ment dropped a bomb shell by an­nounc­ing that it would no longer sub­si­dize the $700-mil­lion-deal of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pak­istan.

It means that if Pak­istan wishes to buy the fight­ers it would have to pay over $700 mil­lion (two-and-a-half times the sub­si­dized cost).

The de­ci­sion was taken af­ter the US Con­gress has re­fused to sanc­tion fund­ing for the deal.

Fol­low­ing the US’ de­ci­sion on the F-16 deal, Pak­istan gov­ern­ment ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment and dis­plea­sure ask­ing the US ad­min­is­tra­tion to help them as they need the fight­ers for counter-ter­ror op­er­a­tions.

Sev­eral law­mak­ers ac­cused Pak­istan of not fight­ing ter­ror­ism; they felt the fight­ers would be used to at­tack In­dia and not com­bat ter­ror­ism. The US State De­part­ment stated that it wouldn’t use tax-pay­ers’ money to sub­si­dize eight F-16s to Pak­istan.

Aziz added that Pak­istan val­ued F-16s for their ef­fec­tive­ness but, they could use JF-17 Thun­der jets as well in the an­titer­ror­ism cam­paign.

Se­nior of­fi­cials in Min­istry of De­fence and For­eign Of­fice told Pak­istan Ob­server that au­thor­i­ties have de­cided to make JF-17 Thun­der fight­ers Pak­istan Air Force’s back­bone. JF-17 is de­vel­oped jointly by Pak­istan Aero­nau­ti­cal Com­plex and Avi­a­tion In­dus­try Cor­po­ra­tion of China. JF-17s could be used for ground at­tack, aerial re­con­nais­sance, and air­craft in­ter­cep­tion. has given us we should pon­der what we have done for Pak­istan’.

Dr Kore­shi’s pa­tri­o­tism was ex­em­plary. There came a time when he was on the verge of los­ing his job due to his pas­sion for Pak­istan. Ad­vo­cate Khalid Chaudhry whom he re­garded as his son shared with Pak­istan Ob­server an anec­dote he heard from the Am­bas­sador. In South Africa where Am­bas­sador Kore­shi was work­ing as high com­mis­sioner, once the chief jus­tice called him to speak on ‘ra­tio­nale of Pak­istan’.

Ac­cord­ing to Khalid Chaudhry, Dr Kore­shi told him that pro­to­col re­quired an en­voy to get his coun­try’s per­mis­sion be­fore de­liv­er­ing a speech pub­licly. How­ever, many days passed but he did not re­ceive For­eign Min­istry’s nod. One day, he re­ceived a note from the Chief Jus­tice of South Africa if he was not com­ing to de­liver a speech he was go­ing to in-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.