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Pakistan 'surprised' over Indian reaction to US F-16 sale

Pakistan 'surprised' over Indian reaction to US F-16 sale

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Sunday expressed 'surprise' at the Indian government's disappointment over the United States' decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

A 'disappointed' India on Saturday summoned the US envoy in New Delhi, Richard Verma, to 'convey its displeasure' regarding the Obama administration's decision to notify the sale of the aircraft to Pakistan.

Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met the US ambassador at the ministry to convey India's disapproval of the deal to Washington, in a meeting which lasted 45 minutes.

Read: 'Disappointed' India summons US ambassador over sale of F-16s to Pakistan




"Their army and arsenal stock is much larger and they are the largest importer of defence equipment," Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said in a statement.

"With regards to the F-16 sale, Pakistan and the United States are closely cooperating in countering terrorism efforts," he said, adding that the US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner had earlier announced that the purpose of the sale was the enhance Pakistan's precision strike capability.

It is in US security interests to support Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts, Toner had said.

Know more: US committed to boosting Pakistan’s precision strike capability, Congress told

The $699 million deal consists of eight Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, along with training, radar and other equipment.

The F-16 aircraft will allow the Pakistan Air Force to operate in all kinds of weather, at night, as well as "enhance Pakistan's ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations," the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates such foreign arms sales, said in a statement.

The proposed deal will now go through a 30-day notification period after which it will be finalised.

The new aircraft will add to Pakistan’s sizable force of fighter jets which includes more than 70 F-16s and dozens of French and Chinese attack aircraft.

Earlier in January, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif during a National Assembly briefing told lawmakers that an Indian lobby, as well as Pakistan's former ambassador to the US are "working against us" and had approached the US House of Representatives to lobby against the sale of the fighter jets, causing a delay.

Explore: PPP's ex-envoy to US, Indian lobbies working against F-16 deal: defence minister

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