India wants to know if US teams were at Pakistan bases

India has ordered the United States if American personnel were present, as per its end-user conditions, at Pakistani bases from where F-16 fighters were deployed on February 26-27, when Islamabad decided to bomb Indian military installations after India struck a terror camp at Balakot.

ET has reliably gathered that while the US had not yet given a formal response, the data available with New Delhi is that the Pakistani military had asked all American personnel to leave the respective bases as they were preparing for forwarding deployment. The matter is still being pursued with the US, added sources.

Under end-user conditions agreed between the US and Pakistan, a detachment of American military personnel has to be present at each of the bases where the F-16s are posted to oversee their actual usage and deployments.

However, this safeguard did not help avoid the aerial battle on the morning of February 27 in which the Indian side showed restraint despite F-16s intruding deep into Indian airspace. The dogfight that ensued saw a MIG-21 Bison piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman being shot down after it chased and hit a Pakistani F-16.

The Indian officer was captured by Pakistan and later issued at the instance of the US. However, Islamabad has denied using F-16s even though AMRAAM ammunition used by the plane was found on the Indian side. Pakistan has also lately denied that it has lost one of its F-16s.

The US, for its part, has told India that it’s still trying to ascertain the details and working on measures to ensure that such a situation doesn’t arise in the future. The concern was also discussed when foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale visited the US after the Balakot strikes last month.

Unwarranted Action
While none of the conditions of the US’ F-16 agreement with Pakistan explicitly mention that the fighters will not be used against India, the understanding in New Delhi has always been that Washington will not permit Islamabad or the military brass in Rawalpindi to direct them towards Indian airspace.

The presence of US personnel at Pakistani bases has been regarded as a safeguard against this. Pakistan, however, has always cited its right to use the F-16 in self-defense, which is one of the conditions mentioned in its agreement with the US.

From India’s standpoint, the Pakistani package of aircraft led by the F-16s that attacked Indian forces on the morning of February 27 constituted a military act of provocation and not self-defense. India has told the US that its strike on Balakot was a non-military counter-terrorism operation, which did not necessitate such action by Pakistan.


broken clouds
humidity: 74%
wind: 1m/s NW
H 29 • L 28
Weather from OpenWeatherMap