Asia: The United States of America has provided USD 450 million F-16 fighter support to the Pakistan government; this support has been disliked by USA’s QUAD partner and a close ally – India. The government of India has expressed displeasure through diplomatic channels to Washington.
After witnessing ire by India, the US stated that it has provided support to favour counter-terrorism and claimed that the real reasons lie within the Rawalpindi Headquarters, with Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa. Biden-led administration has also clarified that the multi-million support will not impact India or alter the military balance in the Indian sub-continent, as per the reports.
However, the Modi government, while expressing its view on the entire issue, mentioned that these fighters would somehow be utilized against India. The Indian government also cited the attack on February 27, 2019, as retaliation to India’s Balakot strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camp on February 26.
According to various reports, USA and Pakistan have believed that the F-16 support has been provided to Rawalpindi due to the below-mentioned reasons:
The US believed that it is because of Pakistan Army chief Gen Bajwa’s efforts that the temperature between Pakistan and India on the Line of Control (LoC) is lower, and the cross-border relations between both countries have improved.
Gen Bajwa was also praised for supplying ammunition to Ukraine during the war against Pakistan’s new ally Russia, using British aircraft.
The F-16 fighters were also regarded as a reward for Gen Bajwa for remaining neutral during the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi when he visited Russia and met ally Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.
India has shown displeasure with the US State Department’s narrative to justify their foreign military sale for sustainment and related equipment for the fighters. Although the US government has stated that under this, only F-16 fighters’ support will be provided to Pakistan, and no upgradation of military capabilities would be given.
Furthermore, Pakistan desperately needs the spare parts for its F-16 fleet as JF-17 Chinese aircraft was not properly used in military terms.
The Pentagon shared an official statement and justified its support package to Pakistan. The statement read, “This will sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet the current and future counter-terrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet as well as support American foreign policy and national security objectives by allowing interoperability in ongoing counter-terrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations.”