India: India has expressed disappointment over the decision of the United States to supply a USD 450 million F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan. The country has shown displeasure through diplomatic channels to Washington despite being the QUAD partner and close ally with the US.
Although a top US diplomat, while presenting their clarification, stated that it was just a sale of spare parts for the existing F-16 fleet with Pakistan and not assistance from the US administration. Dubbing the multi-million support as counterterrorism, a US diplomat mentioned that it would not affect India or the military balance in the Indian sub-continent.
The Indian government, on its part, anticipated that the fighters would be used against their country as a counterattack to India’s Balakot strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camp a day earlier than February 27, 20219. So, they have shown their dissatisfaction with the development.
Various anticipation and speculations have been outlined by US and Pakistan watchers after this development, such as:
- Pakistan wants to support Ukraine in the war against Russia as they were using British aircraft, and the US has been instrumenting Army Chief Gen Bajwa.
- It is also expected that this is a reward for Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa as he remained neutral during the expulsion of former PM Imran Khan.
- The US also witnessed the peace around the Line of Control (LoC) with the efforts of Gen Bajwa as guns fell silent on the India-Pakistan borders.
However, there was no upgradation of military capabilities or fresh ordnance or air-to-air missiles with Pakistan, and the development was only to maintain the F-16 fighters. India showed their dissatisfaction with the narrative given by the US State while justifying its foreign military sale.
Pakistan is in urgent need of spare parts for its F-16 fleet as the Chinese JF-17 aircraft turned out to be a big failure in military terms.
Further, while justifying the support package to Pakistan, the official Pentagon read, “This will empower Islamabad’a capability to meet the requirements for the counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet and support American foreign policy and national security objectives by allowing interoperability in ongoing counterterrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations.”
Pakistan watchers further asserted that US support is preparing grounds for the expulsion of Islamabad from the FATF grey list. This was clearly sought through the ploy of Pakistan for asking the Taliban regime to locate and arrest JeM’s terrorist, Massod Azhar, in Afghanistan.