US unveils F-16 package for Pakistan
The White House has unveiled plans to sell Pakistan up to 36 F-16 fighters in a deal that could total $5 billion and was expected to draw an unhappy response from US ally India.
“Pakistan is a major non-Nato ally, which has cooperated closely with us in the global war on terror. This proposed sale demonstrates our commitment to a long-term relationship with Pakistan,” spokesman Tony Snow said in a statement on Monday.
“The proposed sale includes 18 new F-16 aircraft with an option to purchase another 18 new planes, a support package for up to 26 used F-16s, a munitions package, an upgrade package for Pakistan’s current fleet of 34 F-16s, and logistical support,” Snow said.
The administration of George Bush, the US president, notified the Congress of the plan on June 28, said Snow, according to whom the proposed package is valued at approximately $5 billion.
Pakistan agreed in April to purchase a scaled-down package of American F-16 fighters after foregoing a larger purchase to finance relief efforts in last year’s earthquake, which killed more than 73,000 people in its zone of Kashmir and North Western Frontier Province.
Washington had blocked the sale of F-16s to Pakistan for 15 years to protest its nuclear weapons programme, but gave the green light in March 2005 to reward the South Asian ally for its help in the “war on terror”.
Pakistan already has more than 30 multi-role F-16s made by US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp.
India has in the past expressed concern about weapons sales to its arch-rival and neighbour, Pakistan.