The F-16s sale and In­dian

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Nasim Zehra

ON Fe­bru­ary 13 the US Ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nally cleared the sale of eight state-of-theart F-16s Block-52 fight­ers to Pak­istan and the US Depart­ment of De­fense's De­fense Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (DSCA) an­nounced their de­liv­ery.

The DSCA noted the sale was nec­es­sary to sup­port Pak­istan's CT op­er­a­tions and that the "pro­posed sale con­trib­utes to US for­eign pol­icy ob­jec­tives..." This did not seem a big deal un­til In­dian dis­may hit so­cial me­dia. Be­fore the deal was an­nounced there was some lob­by­ing in main­stream and dig­i­tal me­dia in the US against the sale of th­ese F-16s. The main re­frain was that Pak­istan was not suf­fi­ciently tar­get­ing the Haqqani Net­work.

Pak­istan had re­peat­edly sought th­ese F-16s for coun­tert­er­ror­ism and coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tions. We know coun­terin­sur­gency is about much more than just mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions but equally we know that the level of en­trench­ment, sanc­tu­ar­ies, train­ing and weapon­i­sa­tion in­cluded re­quires air power. De­ploy­ment of air power can also of­ten mean loss of in­no­cent lives but such is the tragedy of un­do­ing the wrongs of state poli­cies.

Ev­ery op­tion we ex­er­cise to undo a pol­icy blun­der has a price tag at­tached to it yet use of air power is un­avoid­able. F16s have high en­durance de­ploy­ment, ex­cep­tional ground sur­veil­lance and map­ping sen­sors, all re­quired for ef­fec­tive anti-ter­ror ops.

This is not a low-priced air­craft. The to­tal deal is re­port­edly for $699 mil­lion, to be paid for jointly by Pak­istan and by the US un­der the mil­i­tary sup­port pro­gramme. In­deed an ex­pen­sive but un­avoid­able way to clean up past blun-

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