Even after questioning the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan that they consider an “uncertain ally” of America, the US Senators have decided to play safe. With Presidential Elections heading towards a slippery slope, Senators have planned not to anger either the pro-India lobby or the pro-Pakistan lobby. So, they have allowed the outgoing Barrack Obama administration to supply eight F-16 jets to Pakistan.
Earlier, influential Senators, scholars and policy experts in leading American think-tanks had opposed the Obama government’s decision to supply fighter jets to Pakistan, saying that taxpayers’ money should not be used to provide military aid to the South Asian country. They had also questioned Islamabad’s commitment to fight terrorist organisations.
However, the Senate recently killed the bid to block F-16 sale to Islamabad, recognising the compulsion of political circumstances. The Senate passed the resolution of disapproval to block the sales by a 71-24 vote a couple of days ago, despite Senator Rand Paul’s (the Kentucky Republican) attempt to win a Senate approval of his Resolution of Disapproval on the sale. The outcome of the vote could be considered as a victory for the Obama administration (and also for Islamabad), as it had become really difficult for the US government to get approval from the legislative chamber.
Meanwhile, Virginia Democrat and Co-chair of the US Senate India Caucus Senator Mark Warner expressed serious concerns over the sales, saying: “If we move forward with these sales without putting some markers down, I think we potentially not only do damage to holding Pakistan’s feet to the fire in terms of the threat of terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region, but also potentially could do damage to one of the most important relationships our country has, and that is the strategic relationship between the US and India. This relationship has been one of enormous growing importance.”
Describing India as a valuable and strategic partner of America and a “tremendous ally” in promoting global peace and security, Warner stressed: “Relations between our two nations have been steadily improving over the past decade, ranging from approvals of the civilian nuclear agreement to frequent coordination between our militaries and at this point, over a USD 100 billion in bilateral trade.”
Last month, Indian Foreign Secretary Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar summoned US Ambassador to New Delhi Richard Verma to express deep disappointment over Washington’s decision. He told the envoy that the fighter jets “have been a critical part of the Pakistani fight against the terrorists in the western part of that country”.