Urges US to keep its commitments; says not giving F-16s will send negative message to people of Pakistan
The Senate Defence Committee met Thursday under the chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed. Defence Secretary Lt Gen (r) Alam Khattak, accompanied by his team, gave a briefing to the committee on the issue of the sale of F-16s to Pakistan which has been held up by the US Congress.
The committee was also informed that out of four ships promised to Pakistan Navy, only one has been delivered and there is procrastination on three others ships although similar agreements had been signed with other countries. The Senate Defence Committee chairman expressed the view that the United States must keep its commitment to Pakistan for delivery of F-16 planes, otherwise this will send a very negative message to the people of Pakistan that the US is showing both a lack of sensitivity to the sacrifices and contribution of the people of Pakistan besides revealing its pro-India tilt.
The Defence Secretary assured the committee that the matter of F-16s will be pursued and it is on the agenda of a high level defence delegation which will be visiting Washington to discuss this and other issues on May 30. Among other issues is the promised funding for border management between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the development of FATA.
The Senate Defence Committee recommended that Pakistan should have strong lobbying in Washington D.C. as part of Pakistani government’s public diplomacy initiative. The defence secretary promised to take this proposal forward.
Senate Defence Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain also presented the report of the visit of Senate Defence Committee to Karachi, Gwadar, Ormara and Pasni where they visited Pakistan Navy’s installations and where they had detailed briefings on the role of Pakistan’s naval forces. The Senate Defence Committee praised the role of the Pakistan Navy particularly Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zakaullah for playing a proactive and positive role in promoting maritime security, protecting Pakistan coastal regions and integrating the under-developed regions of Balochistan through socio-economic and educational development. The Committee also thanked Pakistan Navy for its excellent briefings and gracious hospitality during the visit of the Senate Defence Committee.
On a point raised by the chairman of the Senate Defence Committee regarding the disbursement of the Shuhada Package to the next of kin of Army Public School, Peshawar’s martyrs, the Committee was informed by the defence secretary that 70% of the Shuhada Package has already been disbursed to the next of kin of the Shuhada and the remaining 30% is in the process after fulfilling all the requirements and that the process will be completed soon.
Members who attended the meeting included Senators Ilyas Ahmad Bilour, Lt Gen (r) Syed Salahuddin Tirmizi, Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qayyum, Javed Abbasi, Farhatullah Babar, Sehar Kamran, Brig (r) John Kenneth Williams and the Committee’s Secretary Dr Syed Pervaiz Abbas.