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Pakistan “very engaged and cooperative” in fight against terrorism: US

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (DNA): US Secretary of State John Kerry has rigorously defended Pakistan at a recent Congressional hearing saying that it was “very engaged and cooperative” in the fight against terrorism.During the hearing in Washington DC, the Secretary of State also defended his government’s proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan saying that they were a “critical tool” in Islamabad’s fight against terrorism.

John Kerry also said that the Obama Administration would be seeking a total of $742 million in the 2017 fiscal year federal budget and that this was needed to help Pakistani citizens build democracy and sustain economic growth.

“We are requesting $742 million in aid to Pakistan to support its citizens as they seek security, build democracy and sustain economic growth and development even as the country continues to suffer from terrorist attacks,” the US Secretary of State said.

Furthermore, the US administration’s decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan has come in the face of strong opposition from some American members of Congress and the Indian government as well.

Republican Senator John McCain has said he would like a special hearing of Congress on this issue while another Republican Senator, Rand Paul, has moved a resolution to halt the sales of the aircraft.

The US Secretary of State told the Congressional hearing that Pakistan had “lost some 50,000 people in the last few years, including soldiers to the terrorists that are threatening Pakistan itself”.

He said that the US government was “sensitive to the balance, obviously, with respect to India” but that it believed that the F-16s are an important part of Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism and militancy.

“Needless to say, we don’t want to do things that upset the balance, but we do believe that Pakistan is engaged legitimately in a very tough fight against identifiable terrorists in their country that threaten Pakistan,” Secretary Kerry said.

He also said that Pakistan had deployed “150,000 to 180,000 soldiers” on its western border but that this didn’t mean that more didn’t need to be done.

“We think that more could be done. We’re particularly concerned about the sanctuary components of Pakistan, and we’re particularly concerned about some individual entities in Pakistan that have been supportive of relationships with some of the people that we consider extremely dangerous to our interests in Afghanistan; Haqqani Network, is a prime example of that,” he said. DNA

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