India registers strong protest over US military sale worth $125 million for Pakistan’s F-16s

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AUGUST 1, 2019

India has registered a strong protest over the US approving a proposed military sale worth $125 million for Pakistan’s F-16 combat jet fleet, calling in the American envoy in New Delhi to convey its “grave concern”.

Days after the meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump, the Pentagon announced on July 26 that the state department had approved the proposed deal for “24/7 end-use monitoring” of the F-16s.

“We have taken up the matter with the US ambassador in Delhi, as well as with the US government in Washington through our ambassador. We have expressed grave concern over US military assistance to Pakistan,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a regular news briefing on Thursday.

People familiar with developments said the US envoy was called in to the external affairs ministry for lodging a strong protest.

In response, Kumar said, the US side had informed India the “proposed sale does not indicate any change in the US policy of maintaining a freeze in military assistance to Pakistan”.

“The US has publicly stated the proposed sale is intended to enable the US to continue technical and logistics support services to assist in the oversight of the operations of F-16 aircraft in Pakistan’s inventory,” he said.

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Trump snapped military and security aid for Pakistan in January last year after accusing Islamabad of resorting to “lies and deceit” in return for billions of dollars of assistance over the past two decades.

However, the warmth displayed by Trump during his first meeting with Khan last month and the US reliance on Pakistan’s support for pushing forward talks with the Afghan Taliban had led observers to conclude that Washington might resume military aid for Islamabad.

The Pentagon statement announcing the proposed sale had said it was cleared after Pakistan requested a “continuation of technical support services; US Government and contractor technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support to assist in the oversight” of the F-16s. It had added that the proposed sale “will not alter the basic military balance in the region”.


Courtesy/Source: Hindustan Times

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