Editor’s Note: As we’d previously noted, Pakistan’s desire to upgrade its fleet of Block 52 F-16s has been approved by the State Department’s DSCA, but the Senate became a battleground over the deal. Pakistan has been operating the Block 52+ F-16 for several years, as well as a number of Vipers which are older and in dire need of upgrades. The move to block the deal was unsuccessful, but funding for the $700 Million sale remains in a holding pattern.
A measure to block the $700 million sale of eight US F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan was scuttled in the US Senate on Thursday, though US financing for the deal was on hold.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, whose committee has jurisdiction over foreign arms sales, said he will maintain a hold on the US subsidy for the jets over Pakistan’s “duplicity” in the US-backed war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and one-time presidential candidate, mounted an effort to halt the jet sales, citing Pakistan’s human rights record and intelligence community’s support of the Afghan Taliban.
“They take our money, take our arms and laugh in our face,” Paul said, adding later: “Pakistan is at best a frenemy — part friend and a lot enemy.”
On Thursday, Paul’s procedural call for a Senate vote to end the sales died when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called a successful vote to table it. The vote was 71-24.
Both Corker, R-Tenn., and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, have a hold on the US subsidy, aimed at applying pressure on Pakistan. Corker did not specify what actions Pakistan can take to lift the hold.
The article in its entirety can be viewed at Defense News right here.
(Featured photo courtesy of Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense)