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India 'disappointed' over US decision to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan

Last updated on: February 13, 2016 11:26 IST

India on Saturday summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma and conveyed its “displeasure and disappointment” over Obama administration’s decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Verma to the South Block and told him about India’s concerns over US military aid to Pakistan which New Delhi believes goes into anti-India activities.

External affairs ministry also issued a strong statement expressing its disappointment over the US decision. It also said that it disagrees with the rationale that these arms transfer to Pakistan will help in combating terrorism.

“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 MEA statement said.

The Obama administration on Saturday notified the US Congress of its decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan worth nearly $700 million (Rs 4,770 crore), notwithstanding American lawmakers’ demand for stopping the proposed sale.

Despite mounting opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties, the US State Department notified the Congress that it has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the government of Pakistan for F-16 Block 52 Aircraft, equipment, training, and logistics support.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency -- a wing of the Pentagon -- said in a statement 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.

Asserting that this will not alter the basic military balance in the region, the Pentagon said the proposed sale improves Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future security threats.

These additional F-16 aircraft will facilitate operations in all-weather, non-daylight environments, provide a self- defence/area suppression capability, and enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations.

“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 agency said.

“This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded,” said the Defence Security Cooperation Agency.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a State Department official defended the decisions of the US Government. “We strongly support the proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan. This platform will support Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, and has contributed to the success of these operations to date,” the official said.

Obama administration’s notification to the Congress comes amidst mounting opposition from lawmakers. Early this week, Senator Bob Corker wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry that he would put a hold on any such decision.

Two days later, the State Department notified to the Congress its intention to sell F-16 to Pakistan.

While the Congress has 30 days’ time to act on it, senior administration officials exuded confidence that the sale would be approved by the lawmakers.

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