India’s response to the sale of F-16 fighter aircraft by the US “does not make sense”, said a Pakistani daily on Monday.
An editorial “An end to cordiality” in The Nation called it “a bizarre move” and said that India has reacted strongly against the sale of eight F-16’s to Pakistan, and protested by summoning the US Ambassador and expressing its disappointment.
“India’s response to this sale does not make sense considering the accusations that are hurled over from across the border do not feature air strikes in any capacity.
“The much-larger neighbour’s defence capabilities are much better than those on this side. The fact that the F-16’s will be sold to Pakistan irks India primarily because it feels that any show of solidarity with Pakistan will undermine the assertions of cross-border terrorism,” said the daily.
It observed that both countries “going out of their way to impede each other is only proof that the bid to improve ties is not genuine”.
“India and Pakistan have seemingly forsaken the path to reconciliation; Pakistan must have understood that its inability to charge Masood Azhar would be seen as an affront while India knows that finding fault with every deal Pakistan makes is not endearing in the slightest,” it added.
The daily went on to say that the US has responded indirectly by questioning whether the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan is secure.
“The timing of this statement coming directly after India’s rancour can only mean that this is an attempt at appeasement. Contradictory statements on the part of the US have become the norm in the case of Pakistan and India.
“The sale of the F-16s is a show of belief in Pakistan’s attempt in defeating terrorism in the country. However, the US also knows that Pakistan wants to be included in the Nuclear Suppliers Group; in part because of the waiver granted to India.
India’s membership would make it the only country in the group to have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Chiding Pakistan over the security of its nuclear weapons is a reminder that an entry into the NSG is a distant reality,” it said.
The editorial said that the attitude on display from the Indian side is a clear indication of how things will be going forward.
“The investigation following Pathankot was a catch-22 situation for Pakistan; investigate the way India wanted, without allowing complete access to Pakistani investigators which would never bring up enough evidence to get a conviction in a Pakistani court, or convict Masood Azhar and talk to India on the backfoot.”
It added that no amount of careful diplomacy can be used to change the relationship until Pathonkot is forgotten or the perpetrators are brought forward; until then Pakistan can expect more protests of this kind from India.