ISLAMABAD - Pakistan said Friday that a proposed new multimillion-dollar sale of American missile systems to Islamabad’s archrival, India, would destabilize an already “volatile” situation in South Asia.
The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday cleared the delivery of 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles,16 MK 54 lightweight torpedoes and related equipment to India.
New Delhi has not commented on the $155 million deal, which is still subject to congressional approval.
“Pakistan has articulated its concerns regarding the sale of sophisticated weapons to India, which would further destabilize the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told her weekly news conference.
The deal is “particularly disturbing" at the time when global efforts are focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Farooqui said, while responding to a question from VOA.
“There is a high possibility of India conducting a false flag operation while global efforts are directed towards combating the pandemic.”
Tensions are high
Pakistan’s military tensions with India remain high and both nuclear-armed nations have been locked in intense skirmishes across their border in the divided region of Kashmir. The tensions over the Himalayan territory have sparked two of the wars between them and continues to be the primary source of bilateral tensions.
Pakistan accuses the Indian armed forces of staging fake militant operations on India's side of the border and using them as an excuse to orchestrate cross-border military attacks on the "baseless" grounds that the militants were sent and backed by Pakistan. New Delhi denies the accusations.
Farooqui said Islamabad has repeatedly “alerted” the international community about India’s “aggressive designs” toward Pakistan and other neighboring countries in South Asia.
U.S. defends proposed sale
Washington, however, says, “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
It said the weapon systems will be integrated into the Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8I advanced maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats from enemy weapon systems.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” a U.S. statement said.