“You are not fooling anybody.” this is the blunt message of India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to the powers-that-be in the Biden administration on the US’ decision to provide the $450 million package F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme for Pakistan.
In a controversial decision, the US government led by President Joe Biden overturned the decision of his predecessor Donald Trump to suspend military aid to Pakistan, eliciting strong protests from India. The Biden government has rationalised the F-16 package by arguing that it would sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats.
“For someone to say I am doing this because it is all counter-terrorism content and so when you are talking of an aircraft like a capability of an F-16 where everybody knows, you know where they are deployed and their use. You are not fooling anybody by saying these things,” said Mr Jaishankar in an interaction with the Indian diaspora when he was asked a question about the US’ decision to ‘sell’ the F-16 aircraft to Pakistan.
“Very honestly, it’s a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well, nor serving the American interests. So, it is really for the United States today to reflect on what are the merits of this relationship and what do they get by it,” he said in a considered critique of the US-Pakistan relationship. “It’s really for the United States today to reflect on the merits of this relationship and what they get by it,” he stressed.
The US has reacted to Mr Jaishankar’s caustic remarks, saying that India and Pakistan are both partners of the US with different points of emphasis. We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and on the other hand, we don’t view our relationship with India as in relation to one another. These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a news conference in Washington DC.
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