Blinken defends Pakistan arms sales against Indian criticism

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US State Secretary Antony Blinken defended military sales to Pakistan after criticism from growing US partner India, which considers itself the target of Islamabad’s F-16 planes.

Blinken met in the US capital with India’s foreign minister a day after separate talks with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

The US-Pakistan alliance, born out of the Cold War, has frayed over Islamabad’s relationship with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The top US diplomat defended a $450 million F-16 deal for Pakistan approved earlier in September, saying the package was for the maintenance of Pakistan’s existing fleet.

The package does not include the sale of any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions and is aimed at the sustenance of Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 programme.

“These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It’s sustaining what they have,” the US state secretary told a news conference with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“Pakistan’s programme bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interests that those threats be able to go forward with impunity, and so this capability that Pakistan has had can benefit all of us in dealing with terrorism,” Blinken said.