Hindu Americans Baffled with F-16 Sale to Pakistan

Washington, D.C. (February 17, 2016) -- Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) voiced their strong opposition to the Obama administration’s notification on the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The fighter jets are capable of deploying nuclear warheads, and the notification comes in the face of strong bipartisan opposition to the sale from the U.S. Congress.

The Obama administration announced the move, despite its own assessment that the Pakistani government, directly and by proxy, supports Islamist terror groups that target its neighbors, India and Afghanistan.

In addition to its continued support of terror and militant groups, Pakistan has repeatedly been censored for its human rights and religious freedom record. HAF’s recent annual human rights report documented several examples of government sanctioned discrimination against religious minorities throughout Pakistan, while the U.S. State Department’s annual religious freedom report similarly highlighted severe human rights abuses and religious discrimination against the country’s Christian, Hindu, and Ahdmadiyya populations.

“We vociferously oppose the Obama Administration’s sale of these sophisticated fighter jets to Pakistan,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow. “When Pakistani citizens continue to suffer rampant persecution and Pakistan’s military leadership refuses to abandon its use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, the sale of F-16s will only reward Pakistan for its bad behavior.”

President Obama first discussed the F-16 deal during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington in October 2015. At that time, an interfaith coalition of religious freedom advocates, led by HAF, wrote to President Obama requesting the Administration to reassess its priorities and refocus its military centric relationship with Pakistan, while placing greater emphasis on human rights and religious freedom.

The F-16 sale, which includes other military equipment and training, is estimated at over $699 million and is likely to come only after a generous stimulus package is also released by the U.S. Government to Pakistan, should Congressional oversight fail to block the transaction. Strong opposition to the sale has come from leading members of the U.S. Congress, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), and House Armed Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee Member Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

“We call upon the U.S. Congress to stand with the innumerable victims of terrorism in the region and long-suffering religious minorities in Pakistan by opposing this deal,” said Jay Kansara, HAF Director of Government Relations. “American aid to Pakistan should focus on civilian assistance, democratization, and human rights, and any military assistance must be conditioned on that country relinquishing its violent obsession with obtaining strategic depth against its neighbors.”