The US’ decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan should not be a cause of concern for India as the regional security situation was taken into account at the time of sale, the Pentagon said on Wednesday as it rejected India’s disappointment over the move.
“We don’t think it should cause concern for India,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said when asked to comment on India’s reaction to Obama Administration’s decision to sell the sophisticated fighter jets to Pakistan.
“We think this is a capability that will help Pakistan in its counter-terrorism effort and we think that’s in the national security interests of the United States,” Cook said.
The Obama Administration said on February 13 it had decided to sell eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets worth nearly USD 700 million to Pakistan despite mounting opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties.
“This sale always took into account the regional security situation. We look at our relationship with Pakistan and our relationship with India as separate relationships. We think this is important capabilities for the Pakistanis to go after terrorists in that country,” Cook said.
India summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey its “displeasure and disappointment” over the decision.
India disagreed with the US’ rationale that such arms transfers help Pakistan in combating terrorism and believes the US military aid to Pakistan goes into anti-India activities.
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 counter terrorism operations, the Pentagon had said.