New Delhi: India has expressed its displeasure to the US over the sale of F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan even as Washington said the aircraft were meant for anti-terror operations.
After talks with visiting US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that he raised the issue of sale of F-16 aircraft by the US to Pakistan.
India had earlier protested sale of the combat planes to Pakistan, saying, “We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism.”
Mr Carter said that the US was aiming to be a “trusted partner” of India, the way Russia has been all along.
Underlining that even the US has been victim of terror emanating from Pakistani soil, he said those who indulge in terrorism in India, like the Pathankot attack, “should be brought to justice and brought to account”.
“That is America’s position and there should not be any question about that,” he said, adding that the kind of projects that the US and India are discussing will help protect both American and Indian societies from terrorists.
Told that the Russians have always been a trusted military partner for India as they have desisted from supplying war equipment to countries inimical to India, Mr Carter said, “We do aim to be a trusted partner for India.”
He said that the US has given some unique technologies to India and that they don’t have such agreements with other countries.
Mr Carter emphasised that from the US’ point of view, Washington’s overall policy towards India is completely different from the way it was decades ago.
“What we do in Pakistan is directed towards counter-terrorism. We too have suffered from terrorism emanating from the territory, more specifically Afghanistan,” Mr Carter said, addressing a joint press conference with Mr Parrikar in New Delhi.
It is a thing of the past to think of India “in relation with Pakistan”, he said, adding that the US has a different vision for India.
Mr Carter said the US does not see Pakistan and India as two sides of the same coin.
Asked what kind of role F-16 fighter jets play against terror as everyone knows it will eventually be used against India, Mr Carter said, “Pakistan has used F-16 in operations in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). We have approved it… We take terrorism emanating from Pakistan very seriously.”
The US had in February said it plans to supply Pakistan with eight F-16 fighter aircraft worth USD 699.04 million.