US Congressman introduces resolution disapproving F-16s for Pakistan
Washington, July 22:
Mr Gary Ackerman, Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, has introduced a joint resolution in the House of Representatives disapproving the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets and other weapons to Pakistan in a $ 5.1 billion arms deal.
The resolution, introduced on Friday, has been referred to the House Committee on International Relations which on Thursday upbraided the Bush administration for what it called a calculated move to diminish Congressional authority in rushing the deal without the traditional 20 days of pre-notification consultations to address any of its concerns.
But despite the swell of all-round anger witnessed during an open hearing, there is little likelihood of the deal being blocked, as there was no real opposition to the F-16 sale as such from either Republican or Democrat members of the panel.
To block the deal notified to Congress on June 28, both the House and the Senate must pass resolutions rejecting it before the 30-day review period runs out next week - a prospect which appeared highly unlikely - and then override a Bush veto.
Mr Ackerman introduced the resolution despite assurances from the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Mr John Hillen that membersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ concerns about leakage of technology from Pakistan were being addressed by Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“an extraordinary security planĂ˘â‚¬Âť imposed on the planes and components, and accepted by the Pakistan Air Force.
Democrat, Mr Brad Sherman said the Congressional Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“outrageĂ˘â‚¬Âť over lack of consultations could not be addressed by mere promises of better behaviour in the future or a resolution of disapproval as proposed by Mr Ackerman. But he too was not opposed to the deal and wanted it to be kept on hold until the administration retraced its steps.
Describing Pakistan as a key country and a strategic partner in South Asia, Mr Hillen said Islamabad had paid a high political price with the Al Qaeda and its extremist allies assailing the Pakistani government regularly for allegedly doing AmericaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s bidding with no benefit to Pakistan.