The short sighted US foreign policy initiative and flawed diplomatic strategy have proved to be instrumental in creating Frankenstein. Beginning from the covert intervention in Afghanistan in 1980s to counteract growing Soviet presence in this backward, mountainous country to the 2003 outright, naked aggression on Iraq, presumably to locate weapons of “mass destruction”, US has only succeeded in creating conditions conducive for the rapid growth of fundamentalist forces that continue to wreak havoc on the world.
The US justification that Pakistan needs F-16 to fight terrorism appears ridiculous and disingenuous… By all means, an advanced combat jet like F-16s equipped with a range of state of art weapons systems cannot be an ideal choice to hit terrorist hideouts.
Verily, the dreaded Taliban was an illegitimate, psychological offspring of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) joining hands with the Pakistani political and military establishment to train a militia of fighters inspired by the religious teachings to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan. At the end of the day, Taliban proved to be the nemesis of US, as proven by the 9/11 devastating terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, in which more than 300 people were killed.
The consequence of the 2003 US led attack on Iraq, described as the worst international crime, was the worsening of the sectarian strife causing a serious power vacuum that ultimately paved way for the deadly Islamic Stare of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In recent years, the ghastly and barbaric acts of ISIS, which is inspired by an extremist brand of Islam, have shocked and stunned the global psyche to no end.
Equally shocking is the current US move to prop up the discredited ruling dispensation of Pakistan, which, has failed miserably to subdue the forces of “terrorism and militancy” that are eating into the vitals of the body politic of this “failed state.”
The plan to sell the fourth generation F-16 Falcon fighter to Pakistan stands out as yet another instance of the utter failure of the US administration to read the writings on the wall. The US justification that Pakistan needs F-16 to fight terrorism appears ridiculous and disingenuous, to say the least. By all means, an advanced combat jet like F-16s equipped with a range of state of art weapons systems cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be an ideal choice to hit terrorist hideouts.
Only small, tactical fighters supporting ground troops could deliver the result in the fight against terrorism. But then with the political leadership and military establishment of Pakistan fighting a half- hearted battle against the forces of terrorism, sophisticated weapons could hardly make a change to the ground reality. There is a certain lack of political commitment on the part of the ruling dispensation in Islamabad to take head on forces of religious fundamentalism that has held the country to the ransom.
…the F-16 combat aircraft that US had supplied to Pakistan in the cold war years, presumably means to fight communism, were used against India.
Not surprisingly then, Barack Obama administration’s claim that the sale of F-16 to Pakistan along with “assorted military goods” is meant “ to enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations” looks highly indefensible. For a combat aircraft like F-16s is designed for a conventional warfare. As such, the perception is that the sale of F-16s will only embolden Pakistani military establishment to purse a course mis-adventurism against India. Many lawmakers n US perceive Pakistan as a terror sponsoring nation.
Looking back in time, it may be recalled that the F-16 combat aircraft that US had supplied to Pakistan in the cold war years, presumably means to fight communism, were used against India. Despite US being well aware of this, there is no let or hindrance in supply of defence hardware to Pakistan. At a time when Pakistan’s political set up is sweating it out to break free from the tentacles of military establishment, Obama administration seems to be weighing in on the side of the generals for whom Indo phobia is a full time business. One more argument for the sale of F-16 to Pakistan is that it would boost the US aerospace sector and generate jobs.
Meanwhile, in an interview to a private TV channel, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that “I am quite hurt by the sale of F-16s to Pakistan and we have expressed our opinion quite clearly to the US.”India’s official stand is unequivocal: the US military hardware would be used to bolster Pakistani defence against India rather than counter terrorism operations, There is also a feeling that the timing of the F-16 sale could introduce an element of uncertainty over the proposed Foreign Secretary level talk between India and Pakistan. Of course, the finalization of the F-16 deal would take some months.”The US government has notified Congress about it. They have not taken a decision yet. We have registered our opposition though. How can we remain a mute spectator,” noted Parrikar.
India has already made it plain that US plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan could have serious implications for the security environment of South Asia region.
In a development of significance, the US defence and aerospace major, Lockheed Martin, has offered to set up a facility in India for the production of F-16 fighter Falcons under Make in India initiative. In the context of the ongoing moves in US to sell F-16s to Pakistan, India will have to carefully analyse the offer of Lockheed Martin with particular reference to its geo political fall outs. Moreover, the opinion of the Indian Air Force (IAF) should be sought while taking a final call on the Lockheed Martin’s proposal. Boeing and Saab too have offered to set up industrial capability in India to produce fighter aircraft under Make in India initiative.
India has already made it plain that US plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan could have serious implications for the security environment of South Asia region. As such, India had sometime summoned US ambassador to India, Richard R. Verma, to lodge protest over US decision to sell eight nuclear capable F-16 to Pakistan at an estimated cost of US$700-million. India has already highlighted the point that “We disagree with their(US) rationale that such arms transfer help to combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself”.
Commenting on the proposed F-16 sale to Pakistan, C.Rajmohan, Director of Carnegie India said, “The sale is not about military balance but is a way of keeping the military in Pakistan happy and reinforcing its centrality which undermines the democratic process”. But Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) of US argues, “The proposed sale improves Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future security threats”. Regan administration in early 1980s had provided the first batch of F-16s to Pakistan when Zia-ul-Haq was the military ruler of the country.
…western geo strategic experts hold the view that the sale of F-16 would encourage Pakistan’s bad behaviour including encouragement to terrorist activities’ in the region.
F-16 was originally developed by General Dynamics for United States Air Force (USAF).Interestingly, F-16 was in the race for India’s now defunct Medium, Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contest. Of course, a section of the US political set up is fully opposed to the plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan. For instance, Republican Senator, Bob Corker, who also happens to be the Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said, “I don’t want US tax payer dollars going to support these acquisitions. While we were spending the tremendous amounts of US dollars and certainly tremendous sacrifice in our men and women in uniforms and by their agencies, they (Pakistan)are working simultaneously to destabilize Afghanistan”.
According to DSCA, Pakistan has requested for the sale of eight F-16 Block 52 aircraft (two C and six D models) with the increased performance F100-PW-229 engine and 14 joint helmet mounted cueing systems. The notification for the proposed sale says” it contributes to US foreign policy objectives and national security goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia”.
Even Pakistan’s former ambassador to US, Hussain Haqqani, has questioned the wisdom of US move to sell F-16s to Pakistan. In a Congressional testimony, Haqqani said “The US has been giving the signal that Pakistan is too important to ignore, which reinforces all of Pakistan’s wrong policies both the US and a significant section of the Pakistani intelligentsia would like changed”. Similarly, a section of western geo strategic experts hold the view that the sale of F-16 would encourage Pakistan’s bad behaviour including encouragement to terrorist activities’ in the region. While treating the hardened terrorists in Punjab with kid gloves, Pakistan army has been increasingly targeting Baloch and Pasthun areas in the name of fighting terrorism.