Antony Blinken defends sale of F-16 equipment to Pakistan despite Indian uproar

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Blinken Pakistan India

Washington: Contrary to the much-touted outcry from his Indian counterpart, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday defended the sale of F-16 equipment to Pakistan.

A day after meeting Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Secretary Blinken held a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Washington.

During the press conference, Blinken defended the US decision of providing an F-16 maintenance package to Pakistan.

Secretary Blinken said that this was a “sustainment program” for F-16s that Pakistan has long had and that these were not new planes, systems, or weapons.

Blinken said that it was the responsibility and obligation of the US to make sure the maintenance and suitability of the military equipment to whomever it is provided.

“Pakistan’s program bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interest 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,” he added.

He said that there were clear terrorism threats that continue to emanate from Pakistan itself as well as from neighboring countries.

“Whether it is TTP that may be targeting Pakistan, whether it’s ISIS-Khorasan, whether it’s al-Qaida, 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,” Secretary Blinken said.

US terms ties with Pakistan, India ‘independent’ of each other

US approves possible sale of F-16 equipment to Pakistan

Earlier this month, approved a potential sale of F-16 aircraft sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to $450 million.

statement issued by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that the Government of Pakistan requested to consolidate prior F-16 sustainment and support cases “to support the Pakistan Air Force F-16 fleet by reducing duplicate case activities and adding additional continued support elements”.

The sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by allowing Pakistan “to retain interoperability with US and partner forces” in “ongoing counterterrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations”.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

Lockheed Martin Corporation will be the principal contractor.

“Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional US Government or contractor representatives to Pakistan. There will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” the statement further said.

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