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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Should US sell F-16s to Pakistan?
F16 fighter jet
US President George W Bush has approved the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, officials say.

An unnamed US official says the sale would not change the overall balance of military power in the region.

The planned sale has drawn an immediate expression of anger from India, which said it would upset the region's military balance and cast a shadow over talks between the neighbours on the issue of Kashmir.

So was the US right to approve such a controversial arms deal? How will the move change the military balance between India and Pakistan?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This is unwise. It will only force India to acquire even more advanced weapons and the arms race between the two countries will continue to spiral out of control.
Ranjit, Sydney, Australia

Another short-sighted decision to sell arms which will threaten all of our children. I am again ashamed of the Bush regime.
James Reaume Jr, Ionia, MI, USA

This deal cannot divert the balance of arms in South Asia as after the nuclear tests both nations are equal. But one should say that arms are against humanity which is not good. We must stop their expansion all over the world specially amongst rivals like India and Pakistan.
Saleem Abbasi, Murree, Pakistan

F-16's to Pakistan and F-18s for India. Bone for being a good dog but the treat goes to India.
Rizwan Ekram, New Orleans, LA

I don't think it will have any real impact on the peace process
Abdullah, Karachi, Pakistan
Interesting decision and timing! However, I don't think it will have any real impact on the peace process, primarily because India will continue to retain significant numerical military superiority, especially once it completes its new aircraft carrier.
Abdullah, Karachi, Pakistan

It sounds like a revenge against India for not having supported the American invasion of Iraq. But India will stand stronger, just a reminder of how the world is getting more destabilised by so-called ambassadors of democracy and peace.
Wilfred Kusemererwa, Kasese-Uganda

This is the worst but hypocritical decision taken by Bush & Co. Pakistan is a breeding ground and safe heaven for terrorists. It is the only nation which created and supported the Taliban. Osama Bin Laden is still hiding somewhere in Pakistan.

General Musharraf is showing no indication of returning back to Democracy. Nuclear proliferation is still going on. It is the only nation who attacked India three times in the past and as early as the Kargil war a few years back. Giving F-16s to Pakistan is like handing those jets to terrorists. We need to stop double standards and allow freedom for all nations and democracy for all citizens. This deal should not go through.
Neil, TX/USA

It's right for the US to approve the sale of the multi-role fighter to Pakistan, as this will minimize the existing air force imbalance in SAsia. It must be noted that already the Indian air force outweighs Pakistan's air force by four to one. So this sale would contribute to stabilizing the already imbalanced military power in the subcontinent. Hopefully we won't get to see another war in the SAsia at all. And that we can live in peace and harmony forever.
Kashif Saeed, Peshawar, Pakistan

The US has no interest in either Pakistan or India. All it needs is Pakistan's help when attacking Iran. By selling sixteen F16 fighter jets to Pakistan, the US would buy the whole of Pakistan. Not a bad deal for US.
Furqan, Canada

ts time for India to build its own fighter jets
Sreekumar, Springfield, USA
Its time for India to build its own fighter jets instead of depending on other countries and begging not to sell to Pakistan. It's just business interest for USA. But for India it's a matter of the country's own security.
Sreekumar, Springfield, USA

I believe that this sale will do little to change the balance of power in the subcontinent as India has always and will always have the larger conventional forces and a much more potent nuclear arsenal. But having said that, one must also keep in mind that this will not be good for the peace process that has finally begun between the two countries after such a long stalemate, and on top of that it comes at a time when this process was making some headway. Still I hope that both countries will keep their fine and continue down the path of reconciliation of their differences at the least.
Siddharth Baswani, Auckland, New Zealand

Enough with air or field mights. We, the people of Pakistan, want a long lasting peaceful relationship with our neighbour. Both India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir issue as quickly as possible or else they would fall in the ditch which they are digging, I mean stockpiling of military arsenal or WMD. Simply, we need bread and butter for our poor people, not the bomber aeroplane or bombs. Look, between Canada and the US, we have a long unguarded border. Why couldn't you, Pakistan and India?
Basharat Choudhry, Montreal, Canada

None of the third world countries should be allowed to spend on defence, at the expense of education and health of their masses. Secondly, what will Pakistan achieve by this sale? Bragging rights for a few months? The US is going to sell sophisticated weaponry to India in near future, along with its technology to reproduce it. We'll see what do the Pakistani generals do then.
Kashif, Nepean, Canada

It is a very bad deal for India, especially when Pakistan is supported by its war-mongering neighbour China. India not only has a threat from Pakistan but from China, too. A few planes sounds little, but the very last thing Pakistan and India needs is a war in the name of a country like the US. I think Pakistan and India should know better and sort out the differences among themselves, instead of buying weapons from the US and Russia.
Roni, New Zealand

Islamic extremists could use the F16s in ways that the Bush administration does not foresee today
Larry McKoder, Redmond, USA
Pakistan's President Musharraf is decent, educated and intelligent, and he is pro-West and pro-US. But he was not elected, and he doesn't represent his people. One day soon he will be deposed (there have been several attempts on his life already.) And when he is deposed Islamic extremists could gain power. Islamic extremists could use the F16s in ways that the Bush administration does not foresee today. This is a threat that America should not underestimate.
Larry McKoder, Redmond, USA

One must ponder on why Indian govt always shown a great exacerbation and starts shouting whenever Pakistan make any strategic collation and defence activity. There are many facts behind it. Firstly, Pakistan is a growing economical and strategic power in south Asia. Secondly, most of the Indian missile and atomic experiment are unable to achieve desired results.

The US is also selling F-16 to India but the Pakistani government doesn't show any concern about it. Instead of looking for Pakistan to fail as a state, India should concentrate on its people suffering from poverty and hunger and on freedom movement in different parts of the country.
Nadeem Abbasi, Islamabad

This sale, which is seen as controversial by India could not have come at a worse time as both countries have now been seeking recourse to dialogue and working towards stabilising the region. The US should be helping to facilitate the talks rather than aggravating an already uneasy truce. The US motives of selling military weapons at this critical juncture of the peace talks is highly dubious.
Amjid Mahmood, Manchester UK

[Pakistan] truly deserves it after making so many sacrifices for the Americans in the war against so-called terrorism
Hasnat Ahmed, Gujar Khan, Pakistan

It is a wise decision from the Bush administration, as [Pakistan] truly deserves it after making so many sacrifices for the Americans in the war against so-called terrorism.
Hasnat Ahmed, Gujar Khan, Pakistan

This shows how hypocritical the Bush doctrine is. You reward a nation which is the biggest proliferator of nuclear weapon technology, the creator of Taleban and cares very little about democracy.
Prasad, Atlanta, USA

India should be more concerned about the near future when Pakistan is going to fail as a state and these things fall to terrorists
SN Rao, Boulder, USA
I don't think the sale of F-16s will imbalance the military power between India and Pakistan. India already is three times stronger than Pakistan military-wise.
Frank, Toronto, ON

I believe the arms race between the two countries was revived by the BJP government's shrill rhetoric against anything Pakistani. Rather than seek the path of humble peace and dialogue with the neighbour, they chose nuclear jingoism laced with nationalistic fervour. Now we pay the price for it.
Ajay, Bombay, India

I think Pakistan getting a couple of F-16s will not change any military balance. I think India should be more concerned about the near future when Pakistan is going to fail as a state and these things fall to terrorists.
SN Rao, Boulder, USA

Finally, Pakistan gets the new F-16s, after waiting for 15 long years. History will repeat itself. Congress will again impose sanctions for some stupid reason and Pakistan's air force will struggle for parts. Pakistan should have chosen some other aircraft and not US-made aircraft. I think President Musharraf should have made a reasonable decision and not gone with this deal.
Hammad Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan




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