India ‘disappointed’ with US selling F-16s to Pakistan, counters anti-terror argument

F-16

The US’ decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan has outraged India’s diplomatic-strategic establishment, as New Delhi  summoned US envoy Richard Verma on February 13. India’s Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar summoned Mr Verma and conveyed its displeasure. India has strongly repudiated the US’ rationale in selling these F16s, saying these cutting-edge aircraft will not be used to combat terrorism.

In the backdrop of the Pathankot attacks and the confessions of David Headley on the role of the ISI in supporting terror against India, this decision of the US has only added to India’s concerns about Pakistan’s defence capabilities.

“We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan. 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,” India’s external affairs ministry said in a statement on February 13.

The US Congress was notified by the Obama administration of its intent to sell F-16s to Pakistan worth nearly $700 million. In a statement, the Pentagon said that this proposed sale contributes to the US foreign policy objectives and national security goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia. The Pentagon also reiterated that this will not alter the basic military balance in South Asia.

The F-16 aircraft will facilitate operations in all-weather, non-daylight environments. It will also provide self-defence and enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations, according to the Pentagon. “It will increase the number of aircraft available to the Pakistan Air Force to sustain operations, meet monthly training requirements, and support transition training for pilots new to the Block-52. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these additional aircraft into its air force,” the Pentagon said

This could become an important point of contention between India and US in the future. Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal has been a cause of concern for India. 

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