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Pallone Expresses Concern Over Discussions of Possible Sale of U.S. F-16 Fighter Jets to Pakistan

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Location: Washington, DC


PALLONE EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER DISCUSSIONS OF POSSIBLE SALE OF U.S. F-16 FIGHTER JETS TO PAKISTAN

Washington, D.C. --- In a letter to President Bush, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, today expressed concern regarding negotiations between the United States and Pakistan on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Pallone's letter follows recent reports that talks between the Bush Administration and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the purchase have resumed, after they were suspended in 1990 following U.S sanctions against Pakistan.

"Your administration's policies with respect to military assistance and now military sales to Pakistan are contributing to increased security concerns throughout South Asia, and particularly to India," Pallone wrote in the letter to President Bush. "Although Pakistan has been an ally in the global war on terror, Pakistan has not taken steps to end terrorism in its own backyard and foreign military assistance to Pakistan has oftentimes been used against India."

In the letter, Pallone urged the President not to extend negotiations u ntil after the negotiations to avoid political problems. Pallone cited a Financial Times report that stated, "The Bush administration was likely to wait until after the U.S. presidential elections in November before proposing a new fighter aircraft sale to Islamabad." Pallone went on to urge the president to prohibit all military assistance toPakistan and suspend negotiations with Pakistan.

"Because Pakistan continues to remain under military rule and is not taking meaningful steps to return to a democracy, I support democracy sanctions that would prohibit military assistance to Pakistan entirely," Pallone wrote. "I urge you to take a strong position against selling F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan both now and in the future."

Text of the letter follows.

September 24, 2004

President George Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the possible negotiations taking place between your administration and President Musharraf regarding the sale of United States F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. I understand that negotiations regarding this purchase were suspended in 1990 following sanctions and that the talks have now commenced again. According to London's Financial Times, Pakistani's Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat stated, "Now there is a change in their (U.S.) attitude. They have indicated that they are ready to give us F-16s."

I was extremely disappointed to learn of the Major Non-NATO Alliance status that was bestowed upon Pakistan earlier this year, primarily because it allowed Pakistan to purchase military equipment that is not normally sanctioned to a country that is not under democratic rule. In fact, because Pakistan continues to remain under military rule and is not taking meaningful steps to return to a democracy, I support democracy sanctions that would prohibit military assistance to Pakistan entirely.

Unfortunately, your administration's policies with respect to military assistance and now military sales to Pakistan are contributing to increased security concerns throughout South Asia, and particularly to India. Although Pakistan has been an ally in the global war on terror, Pakistan has not taken steps to end terrorism in its own backyard and foreign military assistance to Pakistan has oftentimes been used against India.

Although it is bad policy for the U.S. to be negotiating the sale of 40 to 50 U. S. F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, I am concerned that your administration may be extending negotiations until after the November elections in an effort to avoid political problems. London's Financial Times reports, "The Bush administration was likely to wait until after the U.S. presidential elections in November before proposing a new fighter aircraft sale to Islamabad."

I urge you to take a strong position against selling F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan both now and in the future.

Sincerely,

Frank Pallone, Jr.

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