Pakistan Must Introspect

16 May 2016

Instead of harping on India's role in seeking to block the sale (by the United States) of F-16 fighter aircraft to his country, Pakistan Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, must study the reasons for the opposition to the deal across the political spectrum in the US. Senator Rand Paul's resolution is not the only manifestation of this concern; there have been other voices within the United States against the proposed sale, and they have been coming in loud and clear ever since it became known that the Obama Administration had cleared the sale of the fighter jets to Pakistan. Washington, DC could not ignore the argument that since Islamabad had at best been a dodgy partner in assisting the US to combat global terrorism, and that its role in shielding Osama bin Laden remains real, it would be inappropriate for the US to sell military hardware to such a country. The situation for the pro-Pakistan lobby became further tricky when it came to be known that Pakistan would get the planes through a subsidy route at the cost of the American taxpayer. It was then that Islamabad was told to pay the full money upfront for the deal  a proposal that Pakistan turned down, daring the US that it would make its purchases elsewhere. Whatever may the final outcome be, the uneasiness in the Pakistan-US relationship is obvious, and Aziz has had no hesitation in admitting it. All of this does not, of course, mean that the US is going to walk away from Islamabad or crack down on it for patronising, promoting and sheltering terrorists such as Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi  all of whom are wanted by India for plotting and executing various terror attacks in this country. The US has so far not gone beyond lecturing Islamabad to behave when it comes to anti-India terrorism, and it's unlikely to do anything more as long as these individuals keep away from America, with or without Pakistani prodding.

Meanwhile there is no reason for India to be defensive on Aziz's accusation of an Indian hand in blocking the sale of the F-16 aircraft. New Delhi has been publicly vocal in its opposition to the deal; it had even summoned the US Ambassador to India to lodge its protest. And, most certainly, it has been active in the US to kill the proposed sale (this is evident in the strong stand taken by the pro-India lobby there). It has justification for that. Not only has Pakistan waged a proxy war against India through militants that infiltrate into this country from the other side of the border to conduct terrorist acts and destabilise States in the Indian Union, it has also in the past used military equipment supplied by the US, against India  the 1965 and 1971 wars are witness to this reality. It should be hoped that not just the incumbent US Government but also the succeeding one (to assume charge early next year), will end the long-flourishing indiscriminate military help to Pakistan.


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