US responds after EAM Jaishankar questions F-16 deal with Pakistan
The United States on Monday responded to Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's statements questioning the arrangement between the US and Pakistan over the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad as a security aid. Jaishankar also questioned the rationale behind the US-Pakistan deal. However, the American government has now responded, saying that both India and Pakistan are its strategic allies with different priorities.
Why does this story matter?
- The Kashmir conflict and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan have damaged India-Pakistan ties.
- India has often questioned Pakistan's alleged actions in international forums, while the US has said it wants both neighbors to have "constructive" relations.
- While ex-US President Donald Trump suspended Islamabad's military aid, President Joe Biden reversed the suspension, approving the F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment program for Pakistan earlier this month.
What did US State Department spokesperson say?
Addressing a press conference on Monday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price responded to Jaishankar's remarks. He stated, "We don't view our relationship with Pakistan and...India as in relation to one another. These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each." He further added that the US's relationship with both partners comes with shared interests and values but stands independent.
'Instability in Afghanistan not in Pakistan's interest'
Defending the F-16 deal, Price added Pakistan is implicated in several commitments like counterterrorism and safe passage to Afghanistan's citizens. He said it's "not in Pakistan's interest to see instability and violence in Afghanistan." "The unwillingness or the inability on the part of the Taliban to live up to these commitments would have significant implications for Pakistan as well," he responded to a question.
Jaishankar questioned US-Pakistan F-16 deal
Jaishankar, who's on a 10-day US visit, recently addressed the Indian diaspora there and pointed to the US's premise that the F-16 sustenance package is needed to combat terrorism. He further mocked that everyone knows where and against whom Pakistan uses these F-16 jets. "You are not fooling anybody by saying these things," he said, responding to a question during an interaction with Indian-Americans.
What is the F-16 sustenance package?
As per the official notification, the US State Department recently approved the potential foreign military sale of F-16 jet sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan for about $450 million. It argued that the deal would help sustain Islamabad's capabilities to meet counterterrorism threats. Notably, this is the US's first major security aid to Pakistan after the Trump administration suspended Islamabad's military assistance in 2018.