US restarts security aid to Pakistan, India not amused

US restarts security aid to Pakistan, India not amused

Trump's balancing act, approves “sale” of support to F-16s in Pakistan, C-17s in India

U.S. President Donald Trump greets Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. (Reuters Photo)

The United States has approved $ 125 million worth of support for the F-16 fighter jets it earlier supplied to Pakistan – about a year-and-a-half after President Donald Trump's administration suspended all security assistance to the South Asian nation to force it to act against terrorists.

The US, however, also sought to strike a delicate balance and approved $ 670 million worth of support for the C-17 military transport aircraft it earlier supplied to India. None of the two proposed “Foreign Military Sale” will alter the “basic military balance” in South Asia, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) underlined.

India is of course not amused over the US move to restart security assistance to Pakistan. Sources in New Delhi pointed out that Pakistan had demonstrated no sincerity in combating terrorism effectively and had actually done too little to once again start receiving security assistance from the US.

The US approval to the sale of support for F-16 aircraft to Pakistan came close on the heels of the controversy over Trump's claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested him to mediate between New Delhi and Islamabad to help resolve the dispute over Kashmir.

New Delhi refuted the US President's claim, reiterating its long-standing position that “no third party” had any role in resolving the dispute over Kashmir as it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

India, however, on Friday did not officially react to the US decision to end the suspension of security assistance to Pakistan. 

The US State Department approved the “possible Foreign Military Sale” worth $ 125 million to Pakistan. The DSCA delivered the certification, notifying the US Congress of the proposed “sale”, which, however, would not mean supply of new military hardware to Pakistan, but deployment of an American “Technical Security Team” in the South Asian nation to provide support for the F-16 aircraft provided to it in the past.

The “Technical Security Team” will have 60 “representatives” of the “principal contractor” – Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services LLC, which is based at Ohio in the US.

The US DSCA stated in a press release issued in Washington D.C. that Trump Administration had approved the proposed “sale” in response to a request by Government of Pakistan.

Trump hosted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the White House last Monday.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by protecting US technology through the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24/7 end-user monitoring,” the US DSCA said.

New Delhi had lodged a protest with Washington D.C. after the Pakistan Air Force had allegedly used American F-16 aircraft for intrusion into the air-space of India on February 27 – in retaliation to the Indian Air Force's strike on a terror camp inside the neighbouring country the previous day.

The US had in January 2017 suspended all security assistance to Pakistan, accusing the government of the South Asian nation of “not doing enough” to curb terrorists and terror organizations operating out of its territory.

Trump Administration, however, changed its approach over the past few months, reaching out to Imran Khan's Government in Islamabad as well as the Pakistan Army – ostensibly to ensure the success of the peace-process it initiated with Taliban in Afghanistan.

The US DSCA on Friday also notified the American Congress that it had responded to New Delhi's request to support C-17 aircraft it had earlier supplied to India. The proposed “sale” would support the foreign policy and national security of America, by helping to strengthen US-India strategic relationship, it said, adding that India continued to be “an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region”.

The proposed US military “sale” to India will require the deployment of 23 professionals of the prime contractor Boeing Corporation, Chicago, Illinois.