The hardware includes 15 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 1,000 Hellfire missiles, targeting & positioning systems
India has “conveyed concerns” to the U.S. over its approval of military sales including attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles worth nearly a billion dollars to Pakistan, the government said on Wednesday.
In a written reply to a question in Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India had “noted” the State Department’s decision to go ahead with the defence sales, which were announced in April this year. The sales included 15 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 1,000 Hellfire missiles, engines, targeting and positioning systems and other equipment worth $952 million.
“The government has consistently conveyed to the U.S. that it must take into account India-U.S. relations and the impact on India’s security in deciding its military assistance to Pakistan,” Ms. Swaraj said.
MEA sources told The Hindu that the concerns had been conveyed at “various levels, both to the State Department and to the White House”, without disclosing exact dates, or what the U.S. response was.
The government’s statement is the first time that India has articulated its objections over sales to Pakistan quite so clearly. The decision to arm Pakistan was particularly upsetting as President Obama had announced an accompanying aid outlay of $1 billion for the year, as well as a six-fold increase in FMF or Foreign Military Financing to $265 million within days of visiting India in January this year.‘Not for offensive capabilities’
To questions about the announcement of the added military sales, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf had said they were not meant for offensive capabilities. “They are for internal counter-terrorism uses inside Pakistan — so to be very clear about that, going after terrorists inside their own country,” Ms. Harf said on April 8 this year. A recent Congressional report has also disclosed that the U.S. has given military hardware, including F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan amounting to $5.4 billion since the 9/11 terror attacks.
In her statement, Ms. Swaraj said the government “keeps a constant watch on all developments that have a bearing on national interest and takes necessary steps to safeguard it.”
India also took up China’s announcement of a $46 billion package for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, that included funding development projects in Pakistan occupied Kashmir when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing in May, and Ms. Swaraj had raised concerns over the Russian offer of Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan when she met Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin in 2014.
The Pakistan government has criticised India for expressing such concerns in the past.