New Delhi: Sticking to its position, India today said it disagreed with the US’ rationale that supply of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan will help combat terrorism but at the same time noted that its ties with Washington were not a single-issue relationship. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the US’ decision to sell eight F-16 jets “will create negative sentiment” in the India-US relationship.
“We have our concerns and we do not agree with their rationale. They said F16 will be used for combating terrorism. It will be to fight against terrorists. We do not agree with that rationale,” Swarup said. He was asked about US’ reaction on India’s opposition to the decision. On Saturday, India had summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey its “displeasure and disappointment” over the decision.
However, Swarup added that the relationship with the US “is not a single issue relationship”. Rejecting India’s disappointment over the issue, the Pentagon had yesterday said the decision to sell the F-16 jets to Pakistan should not be a cause of concern for New Delhi as the regional security situation was taken into account.
“We don’t think it should cause concern for India,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook had said. Asked about Pakistan’s view that it was “surprised and disappointed” over India’s reaction to the US decision, Swarup said it was on expected lines.
“We are not surprised at the Pakistani reaction. That was on expected lines,” he said. The Obama Administration said on February 13 it had decided to sell eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets worth nearly USD 700 million to Pakistan despite mounting opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties.
These additional F-16 aircraft will facilitate operations in all-weather, non-daylight environments, provide a self- defence/area suppression capability, and enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter terrorism operations, the Pentagon had said.