India summons US envoy over F-16s' sale to Pakistan

India summons US envoy over F-16s' sale to Pakistan

India on Saturday sharply reacted to the United States’ decision to sell eight F-16 aircraft to Pakistan, with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoning Washington’s envoy to New Delhi Richard R Verma early in the day to lodge a strong protest.

 Jaishankar conveyed to Verma New Delhi’s disappointment soon after President Barack Obama’s administration announced in Washington that it notified the US Congress about the possible sale of eight F-16 Block 52 aircraft to Pakistan.

New Delhi’s strong displeasure over Washington’s move to sell the nuclear capable aircraft to Pakistan was reflected in the unusual move taken by the government to summon the US ambassador early on a weekend.

India rejected the US argument that the sale of the aircraft to Pakistan would help it combat terrorism and would not alter the military balance in South Asia region.“We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement issued early in the morning.
 “We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism.  The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
Despite opposition from the Democrat and Republican lawmakers, the US State Department approved the “possible foreign military sale to Pakistan for F-16 Block 52 aircraft along with “equipment, training, and logistics support” at an the estimated cost of $ 699.04 million.

The US Congress will have to act on the proposal within 30 days. According to a PTI report from Washington, in case of any objection, the process would be lengthier and complicated as the proposed sale would be debated and voted in the Congress. Normally this kind of situation does not arise as in case of opposition to major arms deals, both the Congressional leaders and the administration mutually work together to arrive at consensus, added the PTI report. 

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