Pakistan will explore other options to meet its defence needs if the deal for F-16s did not materialise with the US, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif today said, after America expressed its inability to fund the USD 700 million deal with its tax payers’ money.
“Pakistan is an independent and sovereign state and it could acquire defence related products from other suitable markets of the world,” Asif said.
He said F-16 jet fighter has been very successful in counter terrorism operations and hoped that the US would resolve the issue of supply of F-16 to Pakistan without further delay.
“F-16 fighter jets have successfully been used in Zarb-e-Azb operation, and Pakistan has made major contributions in the war on terror and denying the F-16s to Pakistan will amount to denying those contributions,” Asif was quoted as saying by The Nation.
He made the comments in the backdrop of a two-day international conference titled ‘Refugee crisis and its ramifications for global and national security’ organised by South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) University in collaboration with the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), National Security Division and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The US State Department had expressed its inability to fund the USD 700 million deal with American tax payers’ money.
The US asked Pakistan to “put forward” its “national funds” to buy eight F-16s after some top Senators put a hold on the use of American tax payers’ money to partially finance them.
Now Pakistan has time till May end to avail the American offer to procure F-16s.
Any delay in the acceptance of the offer, would result in increase in cost of F-16s. Pakistan was to pay only USD 270 million for the jets.