Sale of integrated air-defence system to India by US ‘disturbing’: Pakistan

Pakistan on Thursday termed the sale of integrated air-defence system to India by the US as “disturbing”, saying it would further destabilise the “already volatile region”.

The US has approved the sale of an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India for an estimated cost of USD 1.9 billion to modernise its armed forces and to expand its existing air defence architecture to counter threats posed by air attacks.

Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told reporters during her weekly media briefing here that Pakistan saw the advance notice issued by US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, notifying the State Department’s approval of Foreign Military Sale to India of IADWS.

“Sale of such sophisticated weapons system to India at this time is particularly disturbing as it would further destabilise the already volatile region. The US decision would disturb the strategic balance in South Asia with serious security implications for Pakistan and the region,” she said.

“The International community is fully aware of India’s aggressive policy designs against Pakistan and threatening statements of Indian political and military leaders. South Asia cannot afford an arms race and conflict. It is therefore incumbent upon international community to prevent further destabilization of the region,” she added.

Commenting on US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India later this month, she said he offered mediation on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on several occasions and “now was time to fulfill the promise”.

“We hope to see those offers being translated into practical actions. We hope that the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir will be raised during President Trump’s visit to India,” she said.

She alleged that India committed 272 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control this year, killing three civilians and wounding 25 others.

She also warned that Pakistan would respond most effectively and immediately to any Indian provocation.

To a question about the upcoming meeting of the Financial Action Task Force in Paris where Pakistan will present its case to escape from being blacklisted, she said that Islamabad’s efforts were widely acknowledged. “We are certainly hopeful and working closely with our partners in the international community in this regard,” she said. The FATF in October last decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey List’ for its failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.

Since Pakistan continues to be in the FATF ‘Grey List’ , it would be very difficult for the cash-strapped country to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank, ADB and the European Union.

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