Washington/New Delhi: The US has decided to sell eight F-16 combat jets to Pakistan to “support (its) counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations”, prompting India to summon American ambassador Richard Verma to lodge its strong protest against the move.
“We are disappointed at the decision of the (Barack) Obama administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement in New Delhi. “We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself,” it added.
The Obama administration on Friday approved the sale of eight F-16 Block-52 aircraft to Pakistan worth $699 million in the face of US lawmakers’ opposition to the deal over Islamabad’s alleged support to terrorist groups. The US State Department has approved the sale, the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said as it notified US Congress of the possible sale. “We support the proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan, which we view as the right platform in support of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations,” a US government official cited by DefenseNews 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, which is in the national interests of both Pakistan and the US, and in the interest of the region more broadly.”
The official confirmed that there had been Congressional objections to the sale, but said that “concerns were raised in regard to financing the sale, not the transfer itself.” According to the DSCA’s statement, the proposed sale 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.”