US defends arms sales to Pakistan after India’s criticism  


Blinken met with Jaishankar a day after he held separate talks with his counterpart from Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari…;reports Asian Lite News

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has defended US military sales to Pakistan amid criticism from India, which says it is the target of a $450m F-16 fighter jet deal between Washington and Islamabad.

During a news conference in the United States capital on Tuesday, Blinken said that the military package approved earlier this month was for maintenance of Pakistan’s existing fleet.

“These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It’s sustaining what they have,” said Blinken, who spoke alongside India’s External Affairs Minister 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,” he said.

Blinken met with Jaishankar a day after he held separate talks with his counterpart from Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

“In our discussions … we talked about the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India,” Blinken said after that meeting on Monday, without elaborating.

The US has maintained strong ties to both India and Pakistan for decades, despite various points of tension between the nations.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week that “the relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own”.

While Jaishankar did not criticise Blinken publicly over the F-16 deal, the Indian foreign minister said during an event on Sunday that the US position was not “fooling anybody”.

“For someone to say, I’m doing this because it’s for counter-terrorism, when you’re talking of an aircraft like the capability of the F-16, everybody knows where they are deployed,” he said, referring to the fleet’s positioning against India.

“Very honestly, it’s a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving American interests well,” he added.

Pakistan’s military relies heavily on the US, but the relationship has strained in recent years, particularly during the war in Afghanistan.

For its part, India historically has bought military equipment from Moscow and has pressed the US to waive sanctions required under a 2017 law for any nation that buys “significant” military hardware from Russia.

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