ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Thursday said that it has noted that the US Administration has sent a proposal to the Congress for notification of a US$ 450 million contract with regard to F-16s aircraft-related equipment to be provided to support Islamabad’s counterterrorism efforts.
Responding to media queries during weekly briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar termed this a step in the right direction to further strengthen the bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States.
“We have noted that this proposal has been sent to the Congress for notification. We think this is a step in the right direction, and it will contribute to further solidifying and strengthening our bilateral relations. And as you notice there is a lot that is happening between the US and Pakistan to advance our relations on the positive track,” the spokesperson said in response media queries.
Earlier, Pentagon stated in a statement that the Biden administration in the US has approved the potential sale of sustainment and related equipment for the upgrade of Pakistan’s F-16 fighter aircraft fleet, in a deal valued at up to $450 million.
On India, the spokesperson said that Pakistan has always been ready and willing for a result-oriented and meaningful dialogue that can address the issues that have bedevilled the relationship between the two countries. He said that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the core dispute between the two countries. “We have always been open and have never shied away from dialogue. It is India that has not been willing to engage in such a dialogue with Pakistan,” he said.
He added that the illegal and unilateral actions that India took in the IIOJK on 5th August 2019, and all subsequent illegal actions further vitiated the environment and seriously damaged the trust that is required for such dialogues.
“We have urged India to take the necessary steps, including the reversal of all those illegal actions in order to create an environment in which a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue can take place. The onus remains on India in this regard,” he added.
On the violent incidents during Pakistan-Afghanistan cricket match in Sharjah on Wednesday, the spokesperson said that what happens on the cricket field should be left there. “There are sometimes heightened emotions and that is normal. We should be mindful of the close and brotherly relations that exist between Pakistan and Afghanistan - the historical, cultural affinities, and the strong spirit of brotherhood that is there between our two peoples. I do not think it is going to be impacted by any such emotions in the sports arena,” he added. To another question about the proposal to import wheat from Russia, he said that there was a decision by the government, in view of the shortage of food grain in Pakistan, to procure wheat, and a part of that was through international tenders and a part of that was on GTG basis, in which different options were under consideration, and Russia was clearly one of them. He said that the discussions about the proposal are ongoing.
About the flood situation and the resulting devastation, he said that the requirements are enormous and the speed of response and the scale of assistance that needs to be provided to over 33 million people who have been affected, that poses huge requirements.
He said that there is a coordinated national effort to respond to this massive challenge. However, the magnitude of this disaster is so big that it exceeds our capacities and resources, he added. “That is where the importance of international community’s assistance comes in; and their response has been very forthcoming,” he said.
He said that many countries and international organizations have stepped forward and pledged assistance, while responding also to the UN flash appeal, providing assistance bilaterally to the government, working through various UN agencies, and through NGOs and INGOs.
“So it’s a full-scale effort that is ongoing. But a lot more needs to be done because the requirements far exceed the response,” he added. About the 77th Session of United Nations General Assembly, he said that this is an important annual gathering of heads of state and government, adding that there is going to be a high-level participation from Pakistan.
Asked whether Pakistan be accepting assistance from Bangladesh following the uncalled-for comments being made by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, where she linked the sending of aid to Pakistan, amidst the flood catastrophe, to what she said was “victory and it was their responsibility”, the spokesperson said: “We have noted the statement.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022