Washington: A top US lawmaker has introduced a "joint resolution" in the House of Representatives to express Congress's disapproval over an arms deal with Pakistan which includes the sale of eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to the latter.
"The government of Pakistan has been using weapons from the US to repress its own citizens and especially the people of Baluchistan," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said on Thursday after he introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives which is similar to Indian Parliament's lower House, the Lok Sabha.
"The deciding factor of whether to support this Joint Resolution is, for me, the arrogant and hostile actions taken by the government of Pakistan against the man who helped bring Osama bin Laden to justice," Rohrabacher said. Earlier this month, the Obama administration officially announced it would go through with the $700 million arms deal with Pakistan.
Alleging that Osama bin Laden was a "mass murderer" of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, he said anyone who helped bring him to justice is an "American hero". "The government of Pakistan arrested Shakil Afridi and continues to hold him in a cage. The arrest was a declaration of hostility toward the United States," he said.
"Our government should not provide military equipment to Pakistan, let alone F-16s, as long as they are holding Afridi. His continued incarceration is an action which underscores that the government of Pakistan considers itself our enemy, not our friend," Rohrabacher said.
A day earlier, former Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul introduced the joint resolution in the Senate to block sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The resolution (SJ Res 30) calls for prohibiting sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, which the State Department had recently notified to the Congress. It also calls for "prohibiting sale" of other military hardware to Pakistan including eight Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites (AIDWES), 14 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS).
Meanwhile, Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has put a hold on the sale of F-16 to Pakistan. The Obama Administration, however, is hopeful that it would be able to overcome legislative challenges to proceed with the sale of F-16.
"The relationship between the US and Pakistan has been a troubled one. Though the government of Pakistan has been considered to be America's ally in the fight on terrorism, its behaviour would suggest otherwise. While we give them billions of dollars in aid, we are simultaneously aware of their intelligence and military apparatus assisting the Afghan Taliban," Senator Paul alleged.
"In addition to Pakistan's duplicitous nature, it also has a deplorable human rights record. It often isolates and unjustly jails religious minorities and Christians," he claimed. "Only after an international outcry did Pakistan commute Asa Bibi's death sentence.
In addition to Pakistan's support of terrorism and deplorable human rights record, it continues to imprison Afridi who helped the US locate and kill Osama Bin Laden," Paul said.