Washington: Notwithstanding India’s concerns, the United States is all set to provide USD 450 million F-16 sustainment package to Pakistan as there has been no objection to the deal from the Senate within the mandatory 30-day notice period.
On September 7, the Department of State notified the US Congress through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the determination of the Biden Administration to this defence sale for Pakistan under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.
“Upon such notification, the Congress has 30 calendar days during which the sale may be reviewed, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez told the Senate days later on September 13.
Last month, the Biden administration reversed the decision of the previous Trump administration to suspend military aid to Islamabad for providing safe havens for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, and approved the F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan.
Within the stipulated 30 days, there has been no objection from any of the 100 Senators to this proposed sale. With this, the United States is all set to provide the USD 450 million F-16 sustenance package to Pakistan.
India has questioned the rationale behind Washington’s USD 450 million F-16 security assistance to Pakistan.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who was on a visit to the US last month, said that America’s relationship with Pakistan has “not served” either of the two countries and raised questions on the Biden administration’s approval of a USD 450-million sustenance package for the F-16 fleet.
The Biden administration has argued that Pakistan’s F-16 programme is an important part of its broader ties with Pakistan. The proposed sale will sustain Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet, the US asserted at multiple levels including the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the White House.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had also conveyed to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin India’s concerns over Washington’s decision to provide the sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.
Singh apprised Austin about India’s concerns on Washington’s plans to provide the package to Pakistan during a telephonic conversation.
“I conveyed India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet,” the defence minister said on Twitter on September 14.
The F-16 fleet allows Pakistan to support counterterrorism operations and the US expects Pakistan to take sustained action against all terrorist groups, the US has said.
Notably the US-Pakistan relationship has nose-dived this past week, after US President Joe Biden described Pakistan as the most dangerous nation in the world because of it being with nuclear weapons and political instability.
Following the remarks, Pakistan summoned the American envoy in Islamabad to protest. The State Department has also summoned a Pakistani envoy in Washington DC. —PTI