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September 22, 2023
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US downplays selling F-16 upgrades to Pakistan after India’s objections, says ‘proposed sale will sustain…’

The United States foreign military sales worth $450 million for the upgrade of the F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan were part of the country’s long-standing policy, the US Department of States said on Monday, downplaying the funding that attracted India’s strong objections. The department stressed the jets after the proposed upgrades will support Pakistan’s “sustained action against all terrorist groups”.

India protested the decision to sell spares to Pakistan in a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, saying the technology would be used against it.

“The US government has notified the Congress of a proposed Foreign Military sales case to sustain the Pakistan Air Force`s F-16 program. Pakistan is an important counterterrorism partner, and as part of long-standing policy, the United States provides life cycle maintenance and sustainment packages for US-origin platforms,” ​​said a Department of State spokesperson on Monday to a request for comments as concerns mounted in New Delhi.

“Pakistan’s F-16 program is an important part of the broader United States-Pakistan bilateral relationship. The proposed sale will sustain Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet,” the spokesperson added.

Experts have viewed the US move as the breaking of ice between the two countries after four years of dismal relations during the rule of Imran Khan.

India has been accusing Pakistan of funneling US aid towards its proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir and fomenting terrorism in the region. In the aerial dogfight after the Pulwama attack, Pakistan openly used its F-16 jets against India.

Pakistan claims to have taken concrete action against terrorism but in reality, the country’s efforts prove inadequate as terrorists engage in anti-India activities with impunity on its soil.

Pakistan reportedly has upwards of 70 active F-16s in its Air Force — the last batch of additions was delivered in 2014. A move by the Obama administration to sell eight more of them — in a subsidized arrangement — in 2016 was blocked by the US Senate, which voted 71-24 in bipartisan opposition to the deal.

Some reports suggest Pakistan was rewarded for helping the United States in launching the fatal attack on Al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri.

With inputs from IANS


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