The United States, while providing F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad, not only acknowledged the aircraft’s “deterrence value” to Pakistan in a future conflict with India but also noted that it could prevent a nuclear clash between the two neighbours, reported the Dawn.
The report stated that both points are specifically mentioned in a message the then US ambassador in Islamabad Anne Patterson sent to the State Department on April 24, 2008.
“An enhanced F-16 programme also has deterrence value by giving Pakistan time and space to employ a conventional, rather than nuclear, reaction in the event of a future conflict with India,” she wrote.
The report further stated that the quote is from a 20-paragraph communique that Ambassador Patterson sent to Washington in April 2008 and was disclosed by WikiLeaks.
The package she was referring to included 500 AIM-120-C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), which India claims Pakistan used against the Indian Air Force in last week’s combats over Kashmir.
On March 18, 2009, Ambassador Patterson sent another long message to Washington, which deals with Pakistan’s requests for more F-16s and India’s objections to the proposed sale.
In the same message she also explained why she believed the F-16s could avert a nuclear conflict in South Asia.
“To overcome overwhelming Indian military superiority, Pakistan developed both its nuclear/missile programme and its air power. F-16 aircraft, armed with AMRAAMS, essentially buy time to delay Pakistan considering the nuclear option in a conflict with India.” she wrote.
“Given India’s overwhelming military superiority, this would only be a few days, but these days would allow critical time to mediate and prevent nuclear conflict.”
The tensions between the two countries have escalated following the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, which killed 49 CRPF personnel and which was claimed by militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad.
On Tuesday, Pakistan took 44 members of proscribed organizations, including Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar — the former believed to be the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar and the latter his son — in preventive detention for investigation.
Following the attack, the Foreign Secretary of India had said on Tuesday that they have ‘struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot in the pre-dawn ‘preemptive strikes across the Line of Control’.
“India struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot and a large number of terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis planning terror strikes were eliminated,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said.
Gokhale had added that India’s “non-military preemptive action” was specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp.
“Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country and Fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose,” he had said.
“India has given proof many times seeking action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and others at terror camps so big, that they can train hundreds of jihadis and terrorists at any given time. But due to Pakistan’s inaction, this step was necessary and had to be taken,” he had said.
However, according to a Reuters report, high resolution satellite images shows that the religious school run by Jaish-e-Mohammad still stands after India claimed that they hit the building and killed a large number of militants.
Earlier, India has said that they carried out a pre-dawn strike on a ‘militant camp’ across the Line of Control soon after Pakistan army said that Indian fighter jets were forced to leave after they crossed the LoC in Muzaffarabad sector.
According to reports, the strike was carried out at around 3:30 Tuesday morning by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. The aircraft dropped, according to reports, ‘1,000 kg laser-guided bombs on a major militant camp across the Line of Control, completely destroying it’, news agency ANI reported, quoting Air Force sources.
Earlier, Pakistan Army claimed that the Indian military planes “intruded” from the Muzaffarabad sector but were forced to go back after Pakistan Air Force “immediately scrambled”.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan during a joint Parliament session on Thursday said that as a gesture of peace, they would return captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan to India.
He further stated that he was ready for talks with India and de-escalate tensions between both countries.
During the session, he said that the reason of escalation between India and Pakistan was the Kashmir dispute.
“All of this is because of Kashmir,” PM Khan said while addressing a joint session of parliament.
“I want to ask the Indian public about all that has happened over the past 4 years. There is an indigenous movement in Kashmir. At one point, Kashmiri leaders had not wanted separation, but because of Indian brutality, today all they demand is independence.