Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants the Senate to vote on the State Department’s decision to send F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
“Over the last few years we have seen that Pakistan is an uncertain ally when it comes to cooperating with the United States,” explained Paul. “As I travel in Kentucky, I meet countless individuals who are struggling to survive in this economy, we have no business sending hundreds of millions of dollars overseas.”
Paul wants to invoke “the obscure Arms Export Control Act of 1976 in a bid to shoot down the sale with a resolution of disapproval.” Sen. Alan Cranston (D-CA) last used it in 1986 to ban “certain missiles and defensive services to Saudi Arabia.”
The act allows any senator “to secure a floor vote to disapprove an arms sale law.” Paul introduced the resolution of disapproval and then passed it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If they do not pick it up after ten days, “the senator can move to discharge that resolution from the committee with a floor vote.”
The Senate needs to approve the resolution before March 12.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) joined forces with Paul on the opposition, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also appeared to back his colleagues, but said he remains conflicted. “I would rather have seen it kicked over into the next administration,” said McCain. “This is really a tough one for me and for a lot of people. I think the timing was really bad on this issue.”
Some Democrats also side with Paul. “Pakistan must prove it is taking substantive steps to go after all terrorist groups in the country before we move forward with the sale of F-16s,” declared Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). “So far, Pakistan has not shown willingness to go after groups like the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is why I cannot support a sale at this time.”
Unlike Paul, the State Department “considers Pakistan as an important partner” in the Middle East and vowed cooperation. “We believe it’s in our vital national security interests to support Pakistan in carrying out its efforts to destroy terrorist networks,” stated Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner.
Indian officials have voiced opposition to the sale. Their officials do not agree the fighter jets will help Pakistan fight against terrorism.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said, “We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself. The US Ambassador will be summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs to convey our displeasure.”