Pakistani group counters Indian-initiated move on F-16s
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: A newly-formed Pakistani lobbying group has tried to counter moves initiated by the Indian-American community to block the possible sale of F-16s to Pakistan.
A letter sent by Faiz Rehman, executive director of the Pakistani American Liaison Centre, to members of the India Caucus in US Congress argues that it is a mistake to link Pakistan with the independent relationship between India and the United States. India, he writes, enjoys a huge advantage over Pakistan in conventional weapons. Its military is armed to the teeth with weapons supplied by its Cold War era friend, the former Soviet Union. India to date continues to spend a significant portion of its national budget on buying conventional weapons from Russia and other places in the world to increase its already clear edge over Pakistan, it adds.
According to the letter, even if reports that Pakistan is going to get the aircraft it seeks are correct, this will in no way affect the existing imbalance in conventional arms between the two countries. It argues that it is not right for a lobbying group to attack US ties with a third country, in this case, Pakistan, nor should it try to undermine the actions of Congress or condemn the policies of the President of the United States, especially when those policies enjoy congressional support. It calls the Indian effort “inherently anti-Pakistan” and in stark contrast to the Intelligence Reform and Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2004 which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed by the President. It reminds the US lawmakers that the Act has recommended to the Bush administration to ensure long-term engagement with Pakistan and continue to provide it with military and economic assistance.
The letter underscores Pakistan’s importance to Washington, the vital role it is playing and the huge sacrifices made its people and soldiers have made in the war on terror. “The smear campaign against Pakistan and its citizens initiated by the India Caucus co-chair is extremely unfair and negative, to say the least. It does not deserve support from members of Congress,” the letter stresses.