Acknowledging Pakistan as a "major non-NATO ally", the Bush administration has said that the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad demonstrates the United States' commitment to a "long-term relationship" with that country.
"Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally, which has cooperated closely with us in the global war on terror. This proposed sale demonstrates our commitment to a long-term relationship with Pakistan," White House Spokesman Tony Snow told reporters on Monday.
The proposed package is valued at approximately $5 billion, he said adding, the Bush administration has been consulting Congress on the sale since 2005.
The White House has also confirmed the specifics of the sale, which were sent up to Congress by the Pentagon and the State Department last week.
"The proposed sale includes 18 new F-16 aircraft with an option to purchase another 18 new aircraft, a support package for up to 26 used F-16s, a munitions package, an upgrade package for Pakistan's current fleet of 34 F-16s, and logistical support," the spokesman said.
The break up of the deal that has been provided by the Pentagon will be $3 billion for the new aircrafts, $1.3 billion for the refurbishments and $700 million for an assortment of munitions for the jets.
The Congress, by law, has 30 days to reject the sale, but has rarely done so on such major arms deals. Senior Bush administration officials have been briefing members in the House of Representatives and the Senate and may well be called next week for a formal hearing.