F-16 issue: Aziz says Pakistan’s relation with U.S. under stress

Pointing to the downslide in relations between Pakistan and the United States over the F-16 issue, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said India is using the Pathankot attack against Pakistan to influence the U.S. on such major decisions.  

Pakistan’s relation with the United States is under stress due to a decision by the Congress to block the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to the country, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said.

Briefing the Senate, Mr. Aziz candidly admitted that Pakistan-U.S. ties were under stress for the past three months over the F-16 issue but the two were working to resolve it.

“In the past three months, however, the upward trajectory in relations has witnessed a downward slide, as reflected in a decision of the U.S. Congress to block partial funding for eight F-16 aircraft,” Mr. Aziz said on Thursday during a debate on the U.S. decision to withdraw a proposed subsidy on the sale of F-16s.

Mentions ‘India factor’

Mr. Aziz also mentioned the ‘India factor’ for at least three times during his speech.

“The Indian lobby has been making untiring efforts to reverse the U.S. decision, and a strong attempt, through Senator Rand Paul’s resolution, to block the sale itself.”

But “we have forcefully rejected Indian objections to the sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan and drawn attention to the wide-ranging defence deals concluded between India and the U.S. during U.S. Defence Secretary’s recent visit to India. We have also emphasised the importance of maintaining strategic stability in South Asia,” the Adviser said.

‘India using Pathankot against Pakistan’

At another point during his speech, Mr. Aziz spoke about India using the Pathankot attack against Pakistan in the U.S.

“The Indian lobby in the U.S. has also been highly pro-active in adding fuel to the fire, specially after the Pathankot incident on January 1, 2016,” he said.

Mr. Aziz said that U.S.-Pakistan ties had come to a standstill in 2011 because of unfortunate incidents like the WikiLeaks revelations, Raymond Davis and Abbottabad operation.

But since 2013, the top diplomat said, Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. had witnessed an “upward trajectory.”

‘Pak working to sort out differences’

Mr. Aziz said Pakistan was working on multiple levels to improve ties and sort out differences on various issues. He mentioned about the differences between the U.S. and Pakistan over the handling of the issue of Dr. Shakil Afridi, arrested for allegedly helping CIA track down Osama bin Laden, and the fight against Haqqani network and the nuclear issue.

India not in key meeting?

The top diplomat also briefly mentioned Pakistan’s efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and said a key meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the U.S. would be held in Islamabad on May 18 and 19.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, who had made a strong observation against the U.S. on Wednesday declaring it a “callous state,” referred the F-16 issue to the House committees on defence and foreign affairs with a directive to submit a report on the progress on the issue in every session. Mr. Rabbani told members that on the request of the Foreign Ministry he had sent a letter to his U.S. counterpart in March inviting him to visit Pakistan, but said now he would revisit his decision and only pursue the invitation in the light of the committees’ report on the matter.

Foreign policy vis-à-vis U.S. flayed

Earlier, taking part in the debate, a number of senators criticised the Pakistani government’s foreign policy with a particular reference to the ties with the U.S.

Opposition members have boycotted proceedings since Monday over Pime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s absence in the Senate.

The Senators termed the U.S. a friend which could not be trusted anymore. They also criticised the US for expanding its ties with India, ignoring the fact that Pakistan had been its frontline partner in the war on terror

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 8:17:54 PM |

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