Blinken defends Pakistan arms sales from Indian criticism
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday defended military sales to Pakistan after withering criticism from growing US partner India, which considers itself the target of Islamabad's F-16 planes.
Blinken met in Washington with India's foreign minister a day after separate talks with his counterpart from Pakistan, whose Cold War alliance with Washington has frayed over Islamabad's relationship with Afghanistan's Taliban.
"Pakistan's program 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," Blinken said.
"For someone to say, I'm doing this because it's for counter-terrorism, when you're talking of an aircraft like the capability of the F-16, everybody knows where they are deployed," he said, referring to the fleet's positioning against India.
"Very honestly, it's a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving American interests well," he said.
Pakistan's military relies on US equipment but the relationship soured during the two-decade US war in Afghanistan, with Washington believing that elements in Islamabad never severed support for the Taliban, who seized back power last year.
India historically has bought military equipment from Moscow and has pressed the United States to waive sanctions required under a 2017 law for any nation that buys "significant" military hardware from Russia.
Speaking next to Blinken, Jaishankar noted that India has in recent years also made major purchases from the United States, France and Israel.
India assesses quality and purchase terms and "we exercise a choice which we believe is in our national interest," he said, rejecting any change due to "geopolitical tensions."