India expresses ‘grave concern’ over US military assistance to Pakistan

India on Thursday expressed “grave concern” over the United States’ decision to provide military assistance to Pakistan. Ministry of External Affairs said that it had taken up the matter with the US ambassador in Delhi and with the Donald Trump-led administration.

“The US side has told us that the proposed sale does not indicate any change in the US policy of maintaining a freeze in military assistance to Pakistan,” Kumar said. “US has publicly stated that the proposed sale is intended to enable the US to continue technical and logistics support services to assist in the oversight of the operations of F-16 aircraft in Pakistan’s inventory.” Pakistan had used F-16 fighter jets against India in response to the Balakot airstrikes in February.

Last week, the Pentagon notified the United States Congress that it had decided to approve military sales of $125 million to Pakistan that would include 24×7 end-use monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets in the country. The programme has increased the total number of F-16 fighter jets ordered by Pakistan to 54.

However, United States officials claimed that the freeze in security assistance to Pakistan that began in January last year was still in place. They had asserted that the proposal would not alter the military balance in Pakistan or in “the region”.

The United States envoy was reportedly called in and a protest was registered with him over the decision.

Kumar also spoke about the trade tension between India and the United States, saying that “we are approaching the matter relating to trade in a very positive and constructive manner”. Trade ties between the two countries have frayed after United States President Donald Trump had announced in June that India would no longer get preferential treatment.