State Department Spokesman says Islamabad, Delhi are ‘our partners’ n F-16 fighters’ fleet will help sustain Islamabad’s capability amid counterterrorism threats: Ned Price n Pakistan urges India to respect basic norms of ‘inter-state relations’.

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD    -   The United States has responded to In­dia’s objections to Washington’s move to provide Pakistan $450 million for refurbishing the country’s F-16 fight­ers’ fleet to deal with terrorist threats, saying both South Asian nations are “our partners.”

“We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and on the other hand, we don’t view our relationship with India as in relation to one another,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told his daily press briefing on Monday. “These are both partners of ours with different points of empha­sis in each,” he said, amid warming US-Pakistan relations.

Earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar criticised the US decision, saying his government had conveyed that the fighter jets were allegedly used for operations against India.

“We look to both (India and Paki­stan) as partners, because we do have in many cases shared values. We do have in many cases shared interests. And the relation­ship we have with India stands on its own. The rela­tionship we have with Paki­stan stands on its own,” Ned Price remarked.

Early this month, the Biden administration ap­proved a $450 million F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme to Pakistan, re­versing the decision of the former Trump administra­tion to suspend military aid to Islamabad.

In a notification to the US Congress, the State De­partment said it had made a determination approv­ing a possible foreign mil­itary sale for sustainment and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million, arguing that it would sustain Islamabad’s capability to meet current and future counter-terror­ism threats by maintaining its F-16s fleet. In response to another question, Price said, “We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbours have relations with one an­other that are as construc­tive as can be possible. So that’s another point of em­phasis.” 

Asked whether Pakistan was aiding the Taliban, the spokesperson said it was “not in Pakistan’s interest to see instability and violence in Afghanistan”.

“The support for the peo­ple of Afghanistan is some­thing we discuss regularly with our Pakistani part­ners; our efforts to im­prove the lives and liveli­hoods and humanitarian conditions of the Afghan people, and to see to it that the Taliban live up to the commitments that they have made,” he said.

“Pakistan is implicat­ed in many of these same commitments: the count­er-terrorism commit­ments, commitments to safe passage, commit­ments to the citizens of Af­ghanistan,” Price said. 

“The unwillingness or the inability on the part of the Taliban to live up to these commitments would have significant implica­tions for Pakistan as well. So, for that reason, we do share a number of interests with Pakistan regarding its neighbour.”

‘INTER-STATE NORMS’ 

Pakistan on Tuesday urged India to refrain from commenting on the bilater­al ties between the United States, stressing to respect basic norms of inter-state relations.

“India needs serious in­trospection of its diplomat­ic conduct,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in response to media queries about unwarranted remarks by the Indian Min­ister for External Affairs.

Indian Minister for Exter­nal Affairs S. Jaishankar had raised questions over the “merits” of the US-Pakistan relationship, saying that Washington’s ties with Is­lamabad had not served the “American interest”.

The FO Spokesperson said Pakistan had longstanding and broad-based relation­ship with the United States, which had been vital in pro­moting peace, security and stability in the region.

“In recent months Pa­kistan-U.S. relations have become robust and mul­tidimensional, further deep­ening people-to-people and bilateral ties,” he said.

He said both countries were constructively en­gaged to maintain regional peace and security.