ISLAMABAD: Secretary Defence Lt General (Retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak Monday informed a joint sitting of Senate’s Standing Committees on Defence and Foreign Affairs that the purchasing of F-16 aircraft from the United States at subsidized rate was now a closed chapter.
Briefing the meeting, co-chaired by Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence Mushahid Hussain Sayed and Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Nuzhat Sadiq, he said: “Now, we will go for other options to acquire the fighter jets.”
He said he would not go into details of the F-16s issue with the US as the aircraft would be now acquired through a third party.
The secretary elaborated that Pakistan would get the fighter jets from Jordan, besides exploring other options, including Russia and France.
Khattak said Pakistan always resolved the strategic issues strategically and thus it would be able to meet its defence needs.
Earlier in their opening remarks, Mushahid Hussain and Nuzhat Sadiq asked the concerned to get clarification from the government regarding the current status of Pakistan-US relations in the context of what was generally perceived as a drift in its foreign policy and national security.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz urged the parliamentarians to give comprehensive and solid suggestions to further improve the foreign policy, especially with regard to the US.
Mushahid Hussain called for an effective role of foreign policy institutions like Foreign Office and Defence Committees.
The Adviser said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was part of Pakistan’s strategic policy to maintain balance of power in the region.
Commenting on the committees’ members queries about the US strategic shift towards India, Sartaj said CPEC was a ‘counter and complimentary’ step of Pakistan.
He rejected the impression that Pakistan was isolated among the comity of nations. “The impression of Pakistan’s international isolation is not correct.”
Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan was following a foreign policy aimed at maintaining its relations with international community without compromising on its vital interests.
During last three years, the Adviser said winning the CPEC project was a big success of Pakistan, besides it became a member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), developed increased bilateral relations with Central Asian as well as European states and Islamic countries.
He said India, seven-times bigger than Pakistan, was playing a frontline role in anti-Islam moves and offering its services against China and Muslims, especially after the 9/11 incident.
Commenting on the Haqqani network, the Adviser said Pakistan had underlined the need for improved Pak-Afghan border management and early repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland.
He said Pakistan would soon hire lobbyists in Washington to protect its interests and counter Indian propaganda.
Secretary Foreign Affairs Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry apprised the body that Pakistan had categorically asked the United States to make its objectives clear as whether it wanted dialogue or war to achieve peace in Afghanistan.
He said the US representatives had been told that US drone strike killing Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was a hasty move.
He said the US was oblivious of Pakistan’s security concerns, adding that ending drone strikes were on priority of the government’s agenda.
He said there could be no compromise with the United States on certain issues.
He said the United States had exhausted 16 years in war in Afghanistan and it was better if even six months were given to establish peace.
Aizaz Chaudhry mentioned that according to passport details, Mullah Mansour was travelling from Iran and the record of Iranian city Taftan in that regard was available as well.
However, he said Pakistan was investigating the veracity of the passport of Mullah Mansour, focusing on the fact as to why the document remained unburnt inside the charred car following the drone strike.
He said Pakistan had hosted the Afghan refugees for 30 years and called upon India and Iran being the “new friends of Afghanistan” to come forward to share that burden.
On halt of subsidized sale of F-16 jets to Pakistan, he said the US Congress played a major role in that regard.
He said the foreign policy of Pakistan was moving in the right direction and was formulated keeping in view the best national interests.
Relations of Pakistan and the United States were not always on same frequency and there were ups and downs, he said, adding Pakistan was trying to improve its ties with the US. –APP