Indian Americans rally to block F-16s sale to Pakistan

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Old 09-Apr-2010
Indian Americans rally to block F-16s sale to Pakistan

Indian Americans rally to block F-16s sale to Pakistan

A group of prominent Indian Americans, led by noted physician Sudhir Parikh, are lobbying hard to block Washington's sale of F-16 combat aircraft to Pakistan, drawing support from a large Congressional caucus.

"Our contention is the sals of F-16s to Pakistan will escalate the arms race in South Asia. This goes against US interests in the region and the world at large," said the New Jersey-based asthma and allergy specialist and publisher, here to receive the Padma Shri from President Pratibha Patil.

"We feel it is also not advisable to sell these aircraft to Pakistan since the US wants a peaceful transition in Afghanistan where it counts both Pakistan and India as key allies," Parikh, who runs as many as 28 clinics in the US, told IANS in an interview.

"India today is a major growing power -- a super power in the making. I am sure the US sees India as an ally and will not seek to upset the Indian people," he said, adding this was the factor that helped clinch the US-India civilian nuclear deal.

Parikh said representation has already been made to the bi-partisan India caucus, which is the largest country-specific pressure group in the US Congress with 172 members from both the US Senate and the House of Representatives.

Parikh, co-founder of the Indian American Political Forum and publisher of four Indian newspapers in the US, said the India Caucus has warned the Barack Obama administration that sale of these aircraft to Pakistan, that can deliver nuclear weapons, will send rather ominous signals.

The Caucus believes that the deliveries of F-16s, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, will send a clear message to the Government of India that the US administration has made its strategic choice in South Asia -- and that choice is Pakistan.

Co-chaired by Washington-Democrat Jim McDermott and California-Republican Ed Royce, the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, as it is formally called, is a powerful forum that advances the country's interests in the US polity.

Even though there is no official communication, a recent report in The New York Times cited administration officials as saying Pakistan was likely to get swifter deliveries of F-16s, naval frigates and remotely piloted aircraft for surveillance missions.
Similar reports from Islamabad suggest the US has cleared the supply of high-tech laser-guided bomb kits, surveillance drones and F-16 fighters to enhance Pakistan military's capability against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the restive tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan.

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