New Delhi: In yet another indication that Pakistan lied about not using its F-16 fighter jets during February’s aerial skirmishes with India, reports have emerged in the US media that the Trump administration had reprimanded the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for misusing the US-supplied F-16 and violating the deal between the two countries.
According to a report published by the website US News, in August, Andrea Thompson, the-then US undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, had written a letter to PAF chief, Air Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, over the matter.
“While we understand from you that this was done in support of national defence objectives, the US government considers the relocation of aircraft to non-US government authorised air bases concerning and inconsistent with the F-16 Letter of Offer and Acceptance,” US News quoted the letter as saying.
According to the deal between the two countries, Pakistan cannot use the F-16 without permission from the US, nor can it use the fighter jet for a non-anti terror operation. Overall, there are nearly a dozen sanctions imposed by the US on Pakistan in connection with using the F-16s.
Aerial skirmished had broken out between the two countries on February 27, a day after the Indian Air Force bombed a camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) in Pakistan’s Balakot, in retaliation to the February 14 Pulwama suicide attack in which over 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were martyred.
While Pakistan downed a MiG-21 of the IAF captured its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF claimed that it too had shot down an F-16 of the PAF, a claim that was rejected by Pakistan.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was released by Pakistan on March 1 as a ‘peace gesture.’ He was awarded the Vir Chakra on Independence Day 2019.