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Analysts differ on US F-16 sales to India, Pakistan
A former State Department official has criticised the US decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan while another South Asia expert says Indians found Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice "ill informed" about their country.

"Regionally, I think it is not wise to fuel an arms race. All things considered I would not have approved a sale of F-16s to Pakistan," said Dennis Kux, author of several books on India and Pakistan and a former State Department official.

"It is understandable the administration did what it did. But I wouldn't have," he added.

According to Professor Ainslie Embree, who was advisor to former US ambassador to India Frank Wisner, the Bush administration was trying to satisfy both India and Pakistan.

This, he contended, was "an impossible ideal and I suspect that they don't really care as much about either as they pretend".

Embree, who was in India when Rice visited the region, said: "Despite the American reporting, Rice did not impress people I have talked to. They found her curiously ill-informed about India and remarkably patronising."

Professor Stephen Philip Cohen of the Brookings Institution, however, supported the decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan and to India. Officials in New Delhi have indicated they may not go for the American planes.

Cohen said the sale should be "on condition that we use the leverage to get good things done. Particularly with Pakistan, the sale should be based on excellent performance on nuclear and terrorism issues".

He added: "With India it is a long-term strategic relationship. Clearly this is a break from the past, not because of any problem in India but rather it was mainly a problem with bureaucracy.

"Now the administration has recognised India is a responsible nuclear country, so also Pakistan."

Kux went on to say that trying to sell the same fighter aircraft to both India and Pakistan was "walking both sides of the street at the same time".

"Indeed they are doing what they said - separating the two - a Pakistan policy - rewarding Pakistan for its help. And an India policy - to work to have a broader based relationship with a rising power."

He contended that in contrast to the time last year when Washington without warning declared Pakistan a "non-NATO ally" much to India's surprise and dismay, this time around the F-16 sales to Pakistan were discussed beforehand with New Delhi.

From the Indian perspective, Kux noted, the sale to Pakistan was offset with the US promise to open up military exchanges and technology with India.

Referring to media reports that Washington had indicated it would help India with civilian nuclear plants technology, he said: "I don't think that ... is accurate. I think there are legal limits to what the US can do. I think it was sloppy reporting.

"The administration really wants to broaden and continue relations with India quite apart from Pakistan," he said.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 11:19 AM


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This blog focuses on current issues concerning defense and national security for the world's largest democracy - India. It is updated regularly providing readers with in-depth information on technology transfer, acquisitions, counter-terrorism, security and military collaboration and strategic dialogue between India and the United States. The site includes links to top defense policy & research institutes, think-tanks, military sites and research organizations.
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