US envoy summoned: India outraged at sale of F-16 jets to Pakistan

Published: February 14, 2016
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US-MADE F-16. PHOTO: REUTERS

US-MADE F-16. PHOTO: REUTERS

New Delhi expressed disappointment on Saturday over the Pentagon’s decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, Indian news outlets reported. The United States government announced it had approved the sale a day earlier.

India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey the country’s ‘displeasure’ over the possible sale. Their meeting at the external affairs ministry lasted 45 minutes, according to various Indian news sites, including The Hindu, Times of India and Indian Express.

US lawmaker blocks sale of subsidised F-16s to Pakistan

Earlier in the day, the spokesman for India’s external affairs ministry took to Twitter to express disappointment over the move. “We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan,” Vikas Swarup posted on the microblogging website.

“We disagree with their [Washington’s] rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself,” he said.

While New Delhi’s outrage is unlikely to change the decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan, the move has also been opposed by some members of the US Congress. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last week, Republican Senator Bob Corker said he would block the sale.

“I cannot allow the Obama administration to use taxpayer funds to support the sale of the jets,” said Corker, who is also the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, he suggested that the Pakistani government should be welcome to purchase the advanced fighter jets with its own money.

The planned sale is to be subsidised through the US State Department’s foreign military sales programme announced last year which aims to reward Pakistan for its counter-terror efforts. The US is expected to cover at least 46% of the deal which is valued at $699 million. In addition to eight F-16s, the deal also includes the sale of radars and other military equipment.

Talking to DefenseNews, a US government official set aside India’s objections to F-16 deal, saying that while there had been Congressional objections to the sale, “contrary to erroneous reports, concerns were raised in regard to financing the sale, not the transfer itself.”

“We support the proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan, which we view as the right platform in support of Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations,” he was quoted by the defence publication as saying.

“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 United States, and in the interest of the region more broadly,” the official added.

In its statement notifying the US congress of the decision to sell Pakistan F-16s, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which coordinates such arms deals, also said the proposed sale will “contribute to US foreign policy objectives and national security goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia.”

“The proposed sale [also] improves Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future security threats,” it added. According to DSCA, the F-16s will allow Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to operate in all kinds of weather and at night, “enhancing Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations.”

Following the notification, US lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale. Such an action is rare, however, as deals like this are well-vetted before any formal notification.

India, Haqqani lobbying against F-16 deal: Asif

In a statement earlier in response to opposition to the sale, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s embassy in Washington had said that “F-16s have proven to be the most potent vehicle for conducting precision strikes against terrorists.”

PAF currently operates 76 F-16 fighters. The latest sale, if it goes through, will boost the fleet to 84 aircraft.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2016.

Reader Comments (11)

  • Guru Ramji
    Feb 14, 2016 - 5:49AM

    Message to India is: Stay away from close contact with US. It cannot be trusted! It loves to create fights among neighbors, friends and ‘family’ with a view that one or both of them will buy weapons from them. In this particular case, the US wants India to buy defensive weapons. Be careful!!Recommend

  • Obie
    Feb 14, 2016 - 8:00AM

    India, as a US citizen I can’t image what idiot in our Government would supply USA hating Pakistan any sort of weapon for any sound reason. I do know obama is a first class idiot. Perhaps his evil administration has something to do with this. I know the upright men of this nation will condemn this idiot event.Recommend

  • Jay
    Feb 14, 2016 - 9:28AM

    Just another example of the Obama Administration giving a huge sum of taxpayer $ to a foreign government…nbd tho, it happens all the time nowadaysRecommend

  • Amir
    Feb 14, 2016 - 9:32AM

    What hipocracy ! India is one of the largest arms buyer from the US . it’s alright for them to buy billions in worth of planes guns etc under the pretext of what defense ? Then we also have a right to defend when are neighbour keeps piling up its conventional resources exponentially!Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 14, 2016 - 10:19AM

    Why India is afraid of four time smaller Air Force? Never heard about such situation..lol.Recommend

  • jay
    Feb 14, 2016 - 10:41AM

    @Guru Ramji:
    Its USA ‘s way to appease Pakistan. I mean 8 aircrafts? hahaha , once USA has gotten out of AF and their dependency on Arab oil diminishes most Muslim nation are doomed. USA wont ever forget who hid Osama. They will take their time but sooner or later they will break Pakista’s spine. India is too big and too strong and independent to become a pawn in american hands like Pak is . Dont worry bro u cant fool and keep 120 cr people down. We will as a nation will soon have our place in world comity that truly belongs to us. Recommend

  • sputnik
    Feb 14, 2016 - 10:59AM

    @Guru, what abt SU 30 ,PAK FA aircraft that india is wooing Russia to purchase,Recommend

  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Feb 14, 2016 - 11:14AM

    Actually India wants to become “Thanedar” of South East Asia and also wants that its neighbors have to do whatever India wishes but this India’s dream shall never come true because every country has full right for its defence without any permission from its neighbor countries and most importantly did ever Pakistan raise any objections over India-France defence’s deal by which France will sell fighting aircraft to India according to deal….Recommend

  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Feb 14, 2016 - 11:24AM

    This proves and Pakistani leadership has to observe this India’s attitude/reaction over US’ giving 8 latest F–16s to Pakistan that how much India is honest and sincere and how much India has honest and sincere intentions for Pakistan and its defence whereas India recently has singed a contract with France to get latest fighting aircraft for its defence!!!!!Recommend

  • Zubair
    Feb 14, 2016 - 11:58AM

    India is throwing a tantrum just because Pakistan gets better toys… that all they do, throw tantrumsRecommend

  • Shafiq
    Feb 15, 2016 - 3:12PM

    If B. Hussain Obama can spread death, destruction and instability and put millions of dollars into the pockets of his benefactors at General Dynamics, he will.Recommend

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