AV 89-001 US Air Force General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon lights the afterburner to take off from RAF Lakenheath, England on 5 October 2020. -Reuters


AV 89-001 US Air Force General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon lights the afterburner to take off from RAF Lakenheath, England on 5 October 2020. -Reuters
  • Way cleared for Pakistan’s military package.
  • State Dept notified Congress about F-16 programme last month.
  • India “protested” over proposed sale of F-16 parts to Pakistan.

WASHINGTON: Ignoring Indian objections to Pakistan’s F-16 package, the US Congress cleared a proposed foreign military sale valued at $450 million for maintenance and sustainment services of the aircraft, Geo News reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Congress didn’t raise any objection to the proposed sale thus clearing the way for the US package for Pakistan which was approved last month by the Biden administration. As per the rules, clearance was required from the US House of Representatives for the programme to proceed.

The F-16 package made headlines after Indian criticism of the deal, triggering a strong response from Islamabad which urged New Delhi to refrain from commenting on Pakistan-US ties.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also defended the military sale, saying the package was for the maintenance of Pakistan’s existing fleet.

“These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It’s sustaining what they have,” the US state secretary told a news conference with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“Pakistan’s programme bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interests that those threats be able to go forward with impunity, and so this capability that Pakistan has had can benefit all of us in dealing with terrorism,” Blinken said.

He added that the US had a “responsibility and an obligation to whomever we provide military equipment to make sure that it’s maintained and sustained. That’s our obligation”.

When asked to elaborate on the terrorism threats and the need for F-16s to counter them, Blinken said: “There are clear terrorism threats that continue to emanate from Pakistan itself as well as from neighbouring countries.

“And whether it is TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) that may be targeting Pakistan, whether it’s Daesh, whether it’s Al-Qaeda, I think the threats are clear, well-known, and we all have an interest in making sure that we have the means to deal with them. And that’s what this is about.”

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