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US approves sales to support Pakistan’s F-16s, India’s C-17s

HYDERABAD: Indian Air Force Suryakiran team members fly past in formation at the Air Force Station Hakimpet in Hyderabad yesterday to mark the Kargil war 20th anniversary. India’s army chief warned Pakistan that it would get a ‘bloodied nose’ if there was a repeat of a bloody battle which took place 20 years ago. – AFP

WASHINGTON: Washington has approved $125 million worth of support for Pakistan’s F-16 warplanes, and also $670 worth of support for India’s C-17 transport planes. Approval to support US-built aircraft for the two south Asian rivals were approved by the US State Department, and announced simultaneously by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The approval for technical and logistics support for Pakistan’s F-16s comes just days after Prime Minister Imran Khan met with US President Donald Trump at the White House.

The potential sale will support US foreign policy and national security “by protecting US technology through the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24/7 end-use monitoring,” the statement announcing the Pakistan approval read. Separately, the DSCA said that India asked to buy spare parts and test equipment for their Boeing C-17 transport planes, and is seeking personnel training, among other things, “for an estimated cost of $670 million.”

“India needs this follow-on support to maintain its operational readiness and ability to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) assistance in the region. “India will have no difficulty absorbing this support into its armed forces,” the statement announcing the approval read. Both statements added that the proposed sales of equipment and support “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

Ten soldiers killed

In another development, ten Pakistani soldiers were killed by militants yesterday in two separate incidents in the country’s northwestern and southwestern provinces, the military said. Six soldiers patrolling near the Afghan border were killed in North Waziristan district when militants opened fire from the Afghan side, according to the military.

Separately, the army said four paramilitary troops were killed in the southwestern province of Balochistan during an operation against militants. Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences to the families of those killed, and tweeted: “I salute our armed forces personnel who continue to lay down their lives fighting terrorists to keep the nation safe.”

North Waziristan – once a focal point in the global war on terror – held provincial elections for the first time earlier this month, a key step in bringing the northwestern region into the political mainstream after years of turmoil fuelled by militancy. Washington has long insisted the area provides safe havens to militants – including the Taleban and Al-Qaeda – an allegation Islamabad denies. Security has improved in recent years, but lower-level attacks still occur and the area remains notorious for the availability of cheap guns, drugs, and smuggled goods.- Agencies

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