Inspite of strong objections raised by India, the US Congress is all set to provide USD 450 million F-16 sustainment package for Pakistan, on Wednesday, October 19
United States to provide the F-16 sustenance package to Pakistan
As said earlier, India had raised strong objections to the US’s decision to supply USD 450 million F-16 sustainment package to Pakistan. The Department of State informed the US Congress about the determination of the Biden Administration to this defence sale for Pakistan through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under the Foreign Military Sales programme (FMS), on September 7.
Few Days later on September 13, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez told the Senate, “After such notification, the Congress has 30 calendar days during which the sale may be reviewed”.
The Biden administration reversed the decision last month of suspending military aid to Islamabad of the previous Trump administration for giving safe havens for the Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban, and accepted the F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan.
There has been no protest from any of the 100 Senators to this specific proposed sale, within the specified 30 days. With this, the United States is ready to provide the F-16 sustenance package of USD 450 million to Pakistan.
External affairs minister responds to the Deal
Earlier, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, External affairs minister had also raised India’s concerns regarding the US F-16 package of Pakistan with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint press meeting, last month.
Antony Blinken defended the military sale, saying that the package was for the maintenance of Pakistan’s existing fleet, He said in a joint press conference,”These are not new planes,new weapons, new systems. It’s sustaining what they have”.
“Pakistan’s programme reinforces its capability to deal with terrorist threats emerging from Pakistan or from the region. Nobody really wants that those threats be able to go forward with exemption, and so this capability that Pakistan has had can be of help for all of us in dealing with terrorism,” Blinken had said.
He added that the US had an “obligation and a responsibility to whomever we provide military equipment to make sure that it’s sustained and maintained. That is our obligation”.
When Blinken was asked to say something on the terrorism threats and the need for F-16s to counter them. He said “There are clear terrorism threats that keep on coming from Pakistan itself and also from some neighbouring countries.
“And whether it is IS, (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) TTP that may be targeting Pakistan or whether it’s Al Qaeda, I think the threats are clear and well-known and we all have an interest in ensuring that we have the means to tackle them. And that is what all this is actually about.”
The F-16 package after Indian criticism of the deal made headlines, triggering a strong response from Islamabad which insisted New Delhi to refrain from saying anything on Pakistan-US ties.
India has questioned the reason and motive behind Washington’s USD 450 million F-16 security assistance to Pakistan.
Defying India’s objections to Pakistan’s F-16 package, the US Congress cleared a proposed foreign military sale valued at USD 450 million for sustainment and maintenance services of the fighter jet.
America’s relationship with Pakistan has “not served” any of the two countries: S Jaishankar
S Jaishankar, External affairs minister who was on a visit to the US last month, said that America’s association with Pakistan has “not served” any of the two countries and had put forward questions on the Biden administration’s approval on the sustenance package of USD 450-million for the fleet of F-16.
The Biden administration has quarrelled that Pakistan’s F-16 programme is an utmost important part of its broader tie-up with Pakistan. They believed that the proposed sale will sustain Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism menaces by maintaining its F-16 fleet, the US asserted at multiple levels including the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh responds to F-16 fleet
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had also talked to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin about India’s concerns over Washington’s decision to provide the sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.
Singh notified Austin during a telephonic conversation about India’s concerns on Washington’s plans to provide the package to Pakistan.
The defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter, “I explained India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide a sustenance package of USD 450 million for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet” on September 14.
The US has said that the F-16 fleet allows Pakistan to succour counterterrorism operations and that the US wants Pakistan to take sustained action against all terrorist groups.
The US-Pakistan relationship has nose-dived last week, after US President Joe Biden described Pakistan as the most dangerous nation in the world because of its political instability and nuclear weapons.
Consequently, Pakistan summoned the American diplomat in Islamabad to protest. Also, the State Department has summoned an envoy of Pakistan in Washington DC.