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14 Sep, 2022 16:54

India concerned about US military aid for Pakistan

Islamabad’s F-16s have clashed with Delhi's jets in the skies over Kashmir in recent years
India concerned about US military aid for Pakistan

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said that he raised concerns about a recent US maintenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jets during a call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday.

Singh said he had a “warm and productive” call with Austin, during which they discussed their shared strategic interests and defense and security cooperation. He added that he “conveyed India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide [a] sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price announced last week that the US would sell a $450 million package of “maintenance and sustainment services” to Islamabad to extend the lifespan of the Pakistani Air Force’s roughly 85 American-made F-16s. These jets were delivered to Pakistan in several tranches beginning in 1983, and are fielded by Pakistan along with Chinese JF-17 and J-10 and French Dassault Mirage combat aircraft.

Price said that the sale would “sustain Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats.” However, Pakistan has long been accused of facilitating terrorism, and the Trump administration in 2018 suspended several military aid packages to Islamabad totaling nearly $2 billion, over the Pakistani government’s alleged failure to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network terrorist groups.

Pakistan and India have gone to war on four occasions since the partition of British India in 1947, and their forces have been involved in numerous border skirmishes and standoffs in between. After India conducted an airstrike on a suspected terrorist training camp on Pakistani soil in 2019, Pakistani jets shot down an Indian MiG-21 jet and captured its pilot. India then claimed that it shot down one of Pakistan’s F-16s, which Pakistan denies.