Anger over F-16 deal with Pakistan: US rushes to placate India

Hours after straight talk by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar about the US’ F-16 deal with Pakistan in Washington, the US has vowed deeper defence ties with India and committed to extend more support to it as ‘security provider’ in Indo-Pacific region amid growing China threat in what is being viewed by diplomats here as the Biden administration’s attempt to placate New Delhi. During bilateral talks with Jaishankar, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin sharply criticised China for “unprecedented provocations in the Taiwan Strait”. He also went on to lambast Beijing for its aggressive agenda across various geographies including the Indo-Pacific. Austin also assured to ramp up intelligence input sharing networks between the two countries to deal with any such challenge.  
Sources told The Daily Guardian that “the Pentagon chief spent a considerable amount of time during the meeting lashing out at China.” Austin said that “We are positioning the US and Indian militaries to operate and coordinate more closely together than ever.” This was another significant statement from the US Defence Secretary vowing deeper defence ties with India amid New Delhi venting anger over Washington’s F-16 deal with Islamabad. Sources said that the US pledging to enhance ties with India to thwart China’s challenge is a welcome step but, at the same time, the Biden administration must not supply arms or weapons to Pakistan whose nexus with terror organisation is no secret. The US is well aware that Pakistan based terror organisations are threat not only to the region but to the other parts of the world. “Supplying Pakistan jets will ultimately weaken the joint war against terrorism as a terror sponsor country is being strengthened,» say officials.    
Sources further said that Jaishankar apprised Austin of these views on Pakistan in the backdrop of the F-16 jet deal. “India will continue to highlight its concerns over the US-Pakistan defence deals like this in future,” sources told TDG, adding, “India cannot approve of Washington equipping Islamabad with weapons, even though it continues to cooperate with New Delhi in countering Beijing. It cannot take cover of its cooperation to counter China to help another problem creator Pakistan,” a diplomat says. 
Earlier, at a book launch function in Washington, Jaishankar expressed displeasure over the US’ approval this month of a US$450 million package to maintain and upgrade Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jets.“For someone to say, ‘I am doing this because it is all counterterrorism content’, and so, when you are talking of an aircraft like a capability of an F-16 where everybody knows … where they are deployed and their use, you are not fooling anybody by saying these things,” Jaishankar said in a veiled criticism of the Biden administration’s decision.
During the opening remarks in Washington, the Pentagon Chief also recalled his recent call with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and said that the defence partnership between India and the US is going strong and strength to strength. According to sources, during that telephonic conversation, Rajnath Singh had also conveyed India’s concerns related to the American sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.  
Jaishankar on Saturday concluded the high-level United Nations General Assembly debate in New York. The EAM was in New York from September 18 to 24. Now he is in Washington in concluding part of the visit. 

Latest news

Related news