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Pakistan may use F-16 Jets Against India: US Lawmakers

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Top United States lawmakers have  urged the Barack Obama administration to reconsider its decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan,as General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon  could be used against India and not in fighting terrorism  as claimed by Nawaz Sharif government.There are several issues worrying lawmakers. One is the end use of the jets. Several members  expressed concerns that  F-16s could, and would, be used against India.

Republican representative for Arizona’s Matt Salmon, along with other lawmakers, raised the issue at the Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan on Tuesday, convened by the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wherein the Obama Administration was represented by the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson.

Already India has opposed  US selling of eight  F-16 fighter jets worth $700 million to Pakistan. Salmon asked Olson to clarify the underlying purpose and timing of the intended sale and how is it in the best interest of the United States.

Congressman Matt Salmon  pointed to the fact that as “Indo-Pak tensions are at a peak  and some question whether the F-16s could ultimately be used against India or other regional powers, rather than the terrorists as Pakistan as asserted.”

“We’ve got to be concerned what military assistance and whether the F-16s constitute the least expensive, most efficient way for the Pakistani air force to go after the terrorists and the least disruptive weapon system to the balance of power between India and Pakistan,” Congressman Brad Sherman said.

“We need to offer to Pakistan those weapon systems well-crafted to go after terrorists and not crafted for a war with India,” Sherman said.

The US Senate has currently put a hold on the decision of the Obama Administration to give eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan at an estimated cost of $700 million.

“Despite giving Pakistan enormous amounts of counter-terror assistance over the years, over $25 billion since 9/11, terrorist organizations continue to operate with impunity in Pakistan.

“Pakistan has used terror as a tool of statecraft and terrorist proxy groups, for the Pakistani military have carried out fatal attacks inside India,” he alleged.

The subcommittee chairperson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, too, expressed concerns over sale of F-16 to Pakistan.

“I think that we need to leverage our military sales to Pakistan in order to get some more cooperation within the region.

“Can you please update us on the status of the F-16 sales and how would you describe our ability to leverage our aid to Pakistan?” she asked.

Defending  Obama Administration’s decision ,Olson  said  this is in the best interest of the United States.

“The administration is supportive of the F-16 sale to Pakistan. This is been developed between our military coordinating groups over the course of time that is consistent with our overall program of support for the Pakistani military, which is based on counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism. The Pakistanis have developed a precision strike capability that they use in the F-16s they have right now to take out targets,” he said.

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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