Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani warned Washington the F-16 fighter jets it plans to sell to Islamabad will be used against India instead of militants.
“Unless Pakistan changes its worldview and its compulsive competition with its much larger neighbour even in violation of international commitments, American weapons will end up being used to fight or menace India and perceived domestic enemies instead of being deployed against jihadists,” Haqqani said.
In October, it was reported that the Obama administration was preparing to sell eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, an overture intended to bolster a tenuous partnership despite persistent concerns about Islamabad’s ties to elements of the Taliban and quickly expanding nuclear arsenal.
Terming the sale of such military hardware and even reported talk of a civil nuclear deal an appeasement policy towards Pakistani military, Haqqani urged the US to remind the Pakistani leadership that their ambition of rivalling India is akin to Belgium trying to rival France and Germany.
The former envoy contended in his remarks ahead of a Congressional hearing on ‘Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences to the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ that “the Obama administration’s consideration of a nuclear deal with Pakistan, just like its decision a few months ago to sell almost US1 billion dollar in US-made attack helicopters, missiles and other equipment to Pakistan will fuel conflict in South Asia without fulfilling the objective of helping the country fight extremists or limit its nuclear arsenal.”
Earlier this year, the US State Department approved Pakistan’s request to purchase US-made attack helicopters, missiles and other equipment valued at almost $1 billion, aimed at fighting insurgent’s in the country.
Haqqani alleged that Pakistan’s failure to tackle its extremist challenge reflects an absence of will not lack of arms.
“Unless Pakistan changes its worldview and its compulsive competition with its much larger neighbour even in violation of international commitments, American weapons will end up being used to fight India and perceived domestic enemies instead of being deployed against militants,” he said.
Haqqani, who is currently serving as director of South & Central Asia at the Hudson Institute, said US is feeding Pakistan’s delusion of being India’s regional military rival by providing it with military aid and selling equipment. “Seeking security against a much larger neighbour is a rational objective but seeking parity with it on a constant basis is not,” he said.
He further maintained that unlike other countries, Pakistan did not raise an army to match the threats it faces, adding that at independence Pakistan inherited 33 per cent of British India’s army, raised for the Second World War and has since sought to identify threats that match the size of that army.
Urging US lawmakers not to allow military and civilian hardliners in Pakistan to pursue unwinnable competition with India, Haqqani said it is time, the US adopted a policy towards Pakistan that supports the aspirations of its people for a better standard of living.
“The US government has been giving the signal that Pakistan is too important for the US to ignore, which reinforces all of Pakistan’s wrong policies. These are policies that both the US and a significant section of the Pakistani intelligentsia would like changed,” Haqqani said.
The article originally appeared on The Economic Times.