New York, September 28 (KMS): In a sheer embarrassment to India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, America’s top diplomat Antony Blinken, has firmly defended the sale of F-16 aircraft maintenance package to Pakistan.
S. Jaishankar had sharply criticized the Joe Biden administration’s move a day earlier. However, he had to listen silently while his US counterpart justified the deal, saying it was aimed at bolstering Pakistan capacity to fight terrorism.
Standing next to Jaishankar at a press conference following their bilateral talks on Tuesday, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was pointedly asked by Indian journalists whether the sale was justified as, they alleged, Pakistan had used F-16 aircraft against India.
“To be very clear, this is a sustainment programme that Pakistan long had. These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It’s sustaining what they have. We have a responsibility and an obligation to whomever we provide military equipment to make sure that it’s maintained and sustained,” Blinken said.
On Sunday, Jaishankar had said that the US argument that the $450 million F-16 fighter jets maintenance package to Pakistan was for counter-terrorism was “not fooling anybody”.
While Jaishankar had criticized the F-16 sale on Sunday, he didn’t utter a single word on the issue at the press conference.