US Ambassador summoned over sale of F-16s to Pak

SansadTV Bureau

File photo of US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma.

India summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma on Saturday morning to convey its displeasure over US’ decision to sell nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan for counter-terrorism operations.

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

“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.

Earlier in the day, the Obama administration notified the US Congress of its intention to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan which are worth nearly USD 700 million. The Obama administration went ahead with its decision despite the opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Just two days ago, Senator Bob Corker wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to hold on to any such decision.

The proposal has now gone to the US Congress which has 30 days to take a decision on it. However, senior administration officials exuded confidence that the sale would be approved by the lawmakers.

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.

US-Fighter-plane-F-16The estimated cost of the sale is USD 699.4 million, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, a wing of the Pentagon, said in a statement. The US statement also said that the 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 added that the sale of fighter jets to Pakistan will not alter the basic military balance in the region but only improve Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future security threats including counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism 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,” explained the Pentagon statement.

Interestingly, US’ decision to sell the fighter jets to Pakistan for counter-terrorism purposes comes at a time when Pakistani-American LeT terrorist has been deposing before a Mumbai court in connection with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. Headley, in his testimony has given specific details about how terror outfits like LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen receives “financial, moral and military support” from Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.

(With inputs from PTI)