WASHINGTON: The United States has responded to India’s objections to Washington’s move to provide Pakistan $450 million for refurbishing the country’s F-16 fighters fleet to deal with terrorist threats, saying both South Asian nations are “our partners.”
“We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and on the other hand, we don’t view our relationship with India as in relation to one another,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told his daily press briefing on Monday.
“These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each,” he said, amid warming US-Pakistan relations.
Earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar criticized the US decision, saying his government had conveyed that the fighter jets were allegedly used for operations against India.
“We look to both (India and Pakistan) as partners, because we do have in many cases shared values. We do have in many cases shared interests. And the relationship we have with India stands on its own. The relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own,” Ned Price remarked.
Early this month, the Biden administration approved a $450 million F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan, reversing the decision of the former Trump administration to suspend military aid to Islamabad.
In a notification to the US Congress, the State Department said it had made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale for sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million, arguing that it would sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet current and future counter-terrorism threats by maintaining its F-16s fleet.
In response to another question, Price said, “We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbours have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible. So that’s another point of emphasis.”
Asked whether Pakistan was aiding the Taliban, the spokesperson said it was “not in Pakistan’s interest to see instability and violence in Afghanistan”.
“The support for the people of Afghanistan is something we discuss regularly with our Pakistani partners; our efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods and humanitarian conditions of the Afghan people, and to see to it that the Taliban live up to the commitments that they have made,” he said.
“Pakistan is implicated in many of these same commitments: the counter-terrorism commitments, commitments to safe passage, commitments to the citizens of Afghanistan,” Price said.
“The unwillingness or the inability on the part of the Taliban to live up to these commitments would have significant implications for Pakistan as well. So, for that reason, we do share a number of interests with Pakistan regarding its neighbour.”