Obama administration notifies sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, India disappointedWashington/New Delhi: Despite mounting opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties, the Obama administration today notified the Congress that it has made a determination approving the sell of eight F-16 fighter
Washington/New Delhi: Despite mounting opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties, the Obama administration today notified the Congress that it has made a determination approving the sell of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
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 counterterrorism 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 U.S., 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.
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.
US decision disappointing: India
India has expressed disappointment over US administration's decision to sell eight F16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying it disagrees that such arms' transfers will help combat terrorism.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will be summoning US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey India's "displeasure".
"We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan. We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism.
"The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself. The US Ambassador will be summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs to convey our displeasure," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
Richard Verma meets S Jaishankar at South Block
According to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sources Richard Verma met S Jaishankar at South Block this morning, though it was not clear immediately as to what the MEA had conveyed to him during the nearly half an hour-long meeting.
With Agency Inputs