India has expressed its concerns and disappointment over the decision of the United States government to sell eight top line F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The Obama administration on Saturday notified the US Congress of its decision on the proposed deal.
“We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan,” spokesperson for external affairs, Vikas Swarup.
The deal, which is estimated to be worth about $700 million, is not just opposed by India but also US Congress members.
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 deal is said to strengthen Pakistan's security establishment in anti-terrorism operations. However, India has begged to differ.
New Delhi has expressed concerns that such advanced and powerful military weapons are usually used against India by Pakistan in times of conflict.
“We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfer help combat terrorism. The record of last many years in this regard speaks for itself,” Swarup said.
He also added that the US Ambassador will be summoned by external affairs ministry to convey India's displeasure.
The Obama administration’s decision has been made, 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 estimated cost is $699.4 million, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency a wing of the Pentagon - said in a statement, adding 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 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," 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.
"These operations reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven for terrorism and a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan," the official said, adding that these operations are in the national interests of both Pakistan and the US, and in the interest of the region more broadly.
"Let me be clear, before any arms transfer we take into account regional security and a range of other factors. We believe our security assistance contributes to a more stable and secure region," the official said when asked about India's apprehensions that this F-16 would finally end being used against it.
"The US does not view its security cooperation in the region in zero sum terms our security relationships with Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are distinct, but each advances US interests and regional stability," the State Department 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.