The US Senate has blocked an effort to prevent the $700mn sale of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, although a key lawmaker said he would not allow the use of US funds to finance it.
Lawmakers voted 71 to 24 against an attempt introduced by Republican Senator Rand Paul to prevent the sale under legislation known as the Arms Control Act.
President Barack Obama’s administration announced on February 12 that it had approved the sale to Pakistan of the aircraft, as well as radars and other equipment. It drew immediate criticism from India and concern from some members of Congress.
Paul had called Pakistan “an uncertain ally” and other lawmakers expressed concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, commitment to fighting terrorist organisations and co-operation in the Afghanistan peace process.
However, they generally supported the sale, saying the South Asian state needs to modernise its air force and counter-
terrorism activities.
Republican Senator Bob Corker said he would use his power as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to bar the use of any US funds for the deal.
In a statement, Corker said, “Prohibiting a taxpayer subsidy sends a much-needed message to Pakistan that it needs to change its behaviour, but preventing the purchase of US aircraft would do more harm than good by paving the way for countries like Russia and China to sell to Pakistan while also inhibiting greater co-operation on counterterrorism.”
The US identified Pakistan as a key partner in its war against terror following the September 11, 2001, attacks and spent billions of dollars on military aid to help the country fight insurgents.
But there is growing consternation in Washington about continuing with the same level of assistance unless Pakistan provides evidence it is using the funds effectively to eliminate militants.
Nuclear ‘programme not within ICJ ambit’: Pakistan has decided not to participate in the ongoing oral hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague but instead submitted a detailed counter-memorial in the case filed against it by the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), with which Pakistan does not have diplomatic relations, Internews reports.
In a statement, the foreign office says the court should adjudge and declare that the RMI’s claims against Pakistan are neither within the jurisdiction of the court nor are admissible, a report published in The News daily said yesterday.
Pakistan has submitted a written response to the court in the form of a counter-memorial, seeking dismissal of the RMI’s suit for lack of the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the RMI’s claims and the inadmissibility of its application.
In its counter-memorial, the court has been conveyed that there is no dispute between Pakistan and the RMI nor it ever suffered any damage caused by Pakistan directly or indirectly.
Earlier, the RMI had filed suits with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against all the nine Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) of the world.
The foreign office spokesman said: “Pakistan’s counter-memorial emphasises that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is a matter of its national defense and security which falls exclusively within its domestic jurisdiction and is therefore not to be called into question by any court including the ICJ.”