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BJP blames Centre for allowing F-16 sale to Pakistan
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | March 29, 2005 20:19 IST
Last Updated: March 30, 2005 00:56 IST
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh said the Centre's lack of assertiveness allowed sale of US F-16s to Pakistan.
Addressing a news conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, the former external affairs minister said that though the decision to sell F-16 was taken during the National Democratic Alliance government tenure, the US administration refrained from transferring the aircraft to Pakistan because of the strong stand taken by India then.
"We have Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's statement that the government still does not know what India has been offered to match the sale of F-16s to Pakistan. I am afraid this confirms my fears that our government has not been able to put up our stand strongly," he said.
He asked the government to clarify what the Prime Minister's Office meant when it said that the PM expressed great disappointment about the deal to President Bush in a telephonic conversation.
"Pakistan's F-16 agreement with the US in 80's was held in abeyance by the successive US governments mainly on grounds of weapons proliferation and promotion of terrorism by Pakistan," he said.
He expressed shock at a statement made by Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice that US had agreed to release the F-16 aircraft because of improvement in relations between India and Pakistan.
"I am surprised by her statement. Just because relations between India and Pakistan are improving does not mean that you can start an arms race in the Indian subcontinent," he said.
Jaswant Singh also questioned Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf's planned visit to New Delhi in April in view of the fact that the Pakistan president had been making provocative statements on Kashmir everyday.
"There is still about a fortnight to go before he arrives in Delhi to see a match between India and Pakistan. I am afraid he will use the intervening time to make more statements on Kashmir. I have my own apprehensions about the real motives of his visit," he said.
He denied that his statements on the US were coloured by the denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
BJP president Lal Kishenchand Advani said the United States must clarify why it is implementing its agreement to supply F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan after 15 years.
The F-16 issue is not a recent one. The US did not implement the agreement in the last 15 years. "Why then is it doing now? They must tell the world," he told reporters at Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh.
With PTI inputs
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