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US defends sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, says crafts to be used for counter-terror ops

News Agencies | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:48 IST

Following strong protests, the US State Department has defended their decision to sell F-16 fighter aircrafts to Pakistan - saying that the planes were being used in counter-terrorism operations by the country.

"We support the proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan to assist Pakistan's counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. Pakistan's current F-16s have proven critical to the success of these operations to date," State Department spokesperson Helaena W White said.

India, and some US lawmakers, have rejected this claim, saying that the F-16s have not been useful in such operations and would ultimately be used against India.

Lawmakers in US Congress have also moved resolutions both in the House and the Senate, seeking to block the sale.

However, White said that the operations that were being conducted by Pakistan with the help of F-16s, "reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven for terrorism and a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan."

She also noted that "these operations are in the national interests of Pakistan, the United States, Nato, and in the interest of the region more broadly."

According to a Dawn report, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington appreciated the Obama administration's determination to go ahead with the proposed sale. A spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy, Nadeem Hotiana, pointed out that the US administration had already notified Congress of its 'determination' to sell F-16s to Pakistan. "The public notification clearly articulates the reasons for the prospective sale," he said.

"We appreciate the public assessment of the US leaders in response to Congressional enquiries that Pakistan has used F-16s effectively against terrorists and the subject sale is also intended to strengthen Pakistan's capacity to continue the ongoing operations," the embassy said.

First published: 27 February 2016, 10:57 IST