Pakistan’s deal with US for eight F-16 jets facing delays

ISLAMABAD: Defense Minister Khawaja Asif during a National Assembly briefing on Tuesday said that a deal with the United States for the procurement of eight F-16 fighter jets is facing delays due to some lobbyists working against them there.

Talking about Pakistan’s participation in the 34 state Islamic military coalitions formed by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism the defense minister said, they don’t have a military alliance with Saudi per se.

Some lobbyists there, are working against them. They have approached the House of Representatives. The Indian lobby is there too and the former envoy to the US from the PPP government is also working against them, saying that these F 16s should not be given to them, he said.

Despite confirmation by the government of participation in the alliance, the scope of Pakistan’s participation in coalition has remained ambiguous since the initial announcement was made.

The defense minister also briefed the House on Pakistan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia a day after the prime minister and Chief of Army Staff paid a visit to the kingdom to reportedly discuss the 34 country military coalition instead of touching on Saudi Iran mediation as officials had earlier claimed they would.

He said 1,125 officers and other ranking personnel are in Saudi for various purposes, and that this number is increasing. Their capacity and roll over there is training and instruction, Cooperation between Saudi and Pakistan in the Ministry of Defense Production is being multiplied.

Moreover, Pakistan’s former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani has said Pakistan must change its approach to the Kashmir issue.

Mr Haqqani urged the political leadership to give up the ideological obsession with Kashmir stating they no longer enjoy the support of the international community in this regard.

Mr Haqqani has been a vocal critic of military intervention in Pakistani politics in the past while serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to US between 2008 and 2011.

The treatment of Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) in Pakistan will not help matters either. India and the United States have long been demanding that JuD chief Hafiz Saeed be taken to task for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistan has long been critical of Indian presence in Afghanistan but Haqqani believes it is entirely based on trade, aid and education ties. These are not inherently dangerous for Pakistan and the two countries can further improve their relations by working together in Afghanistan.