The Foreign Office on Tuesday strongly urged India to refrain from commenting on the bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan.
The FO’s statement comes as a response to India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s remarks in which he called for the US to “reflect on its ties with Islamabad”.
“The US is not fooling anyone by saying that the support for Pakistan Air Force’s F-16s was meant for counterterrorism,” Jaishankar said at a community event in Washington DC on Sunday, according to a Hindustan Times report.
“Very honestly, it is a relationship that has ended up serving neither Pakistan well nor serving American interests well. It is really for the US to reflect what the merits of the relationship [are] and what they get by keeping it sort of continuing,” the Indian minister was quoted as saying.
He also raised questions over the US State Department approving the potential sale of sustainment and related equipment to Pakistan in a deal valued at up to $450 million.
“At the end of the day, for someone to say I am doing it because it is for counterterrorism when you are talking of an aircraft of the capability of an F-16, everyone knows where they are deployed, what is its use, what is its capability. You are not fooling anybody by saying these things,” Jaishankar said.
“Jaishankar said that while countries make their choices based on their own interests, if he was to speak to an American policymaker, he would ask him to reflect on larger ties with Pakistan,” the report added.
In response to the Indian minister’s comments today, a statement from FO spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed’s office said that Pakistan had a “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-US relations have become robust and multidimensional, further deepening people-to-people and bilateral ties. Both countries are constructively engaged to maintain regional peace and security,” he stated.
Ahmed called for India to “respect basic norms of inter-state relations”. “India also needs serious introspection of its diplomatic conduct,” the FO spokesperson added.
Separately, in a weekly briefing on Monday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price while answering a question on Jaishankar’s comments said that the US didn’t view its relationship with Pakistan and India as in relation to one another.
“These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each, and we look to both as partners because we do have in many cases shared values, we do have in many cases shared interests.”
He said that the US relationship with India stood on its own. “The relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own.
“We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbors have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible. And so that’s another point of emphasis,” Price added.
Previously, the Indian defence minister had also conveyed reservations over the F-16 deal with his counterpart in Washington.
“I conveyed India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistans F-16 fleet,” Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had written on Twitter following what he called a “warm and productive” telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
Earlier this month, the US government formally announced arrangements to service Pakistan’s fleet of F-16 aircraft saying that it viewed Pakistan as “an important counterterrorism partner” and expected it to “take sustained action against all terrorist groups”.