US Congress suspends move to upgrade Pakistan fighter fleet
Pakistn government's plan of diverting aid money to upgrade its military arsenals have entered rough patch. Pakistan government has planned to use millions of dollars given for counter terrorism programmes to upgrade its military arsenals.
US lawmakers are reportedly angered by this move. They felt that Pakistan did not use its F-16s in support of the campaign against fighters in its remote tribal areas out of a fear that civilian casualties could fuel support for extremists.
The US Congress moved Tuesday to suspend a bid by President George W Bush's administration to shift millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan from counter-terrorism programmes to upgrading Islamabad's F-16 fighter jets.
"We have requested a hold on the administration's planned reprogramming pending additional information," said a joint statement by Democratic lawmakers Howard Berman and Nita Lowey, who head key panels in the House of Representatives.
"We are concerned that the administration's proposal to use military assistance to pay for the F-16 upgrades will divert funds from more effective counterterrorism tools like helicopters, TOW missiles, and night-vision goggles," said Berman, chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, and Lowey, chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee on foreign programmes.
The White House said last week that it wanted to shift 230 million dollars in aid to Pakistan from counter-terrorism programmes to upgrading Pakistan's aging F-16 fighter jets.
The move, it said, was aimed at easing fiscal pressures faced by the Pakistani government stemming partly from soaring food and energy costs.