Sputnik: We know that diplomatic relations between Pakistan and America have been on the slide since President Trump took office. What can you add to these particular claims?
Robinder Sachdev: I think essentially there are two aspects. One, yes, when the F-16 sales were made to Pakistan, there were two things. One, in the public domain it was said that the planes will be used only for counter-terrorism and defensive purposes. So, you know, the defensive is an operative word also. And then secondly, we do not know what the end user agreement is, because that is not in the public domain; that is the confidentiality clause between the United States and Pakistan. What one anticipates is that, firstly, Pakistan has been denying that F-16s were used in any case — that is one. Secondly, if it comes to that "okay, yes, F-16s were deployed", then Pakistan could perhaps claim that they were operating within the Pakistan territory. So, in that sense, it could further claim that they were meant for defensive operations.
Sputnik: This comes as Islamabad has returned the captured pilot, which was seen as a token of peace. How high are the odds that the situation could still spiral out of control and escalate? It seems to me that it has subsequently calmed down somewhat. What is your particular angle on this one?
Robinder Sachdev: Very true. Let’s say, one positive outcome of this unfortunate incident has been that there was a spiral building up between India and Pakistan ever since the terrorist attack in Kashmir on the 14 February. India took some steps and Pakistan said that they will take some steps to retaliate, etc. — so there was a spiral building up. The incident of this dogfight or aerial combat, and the capture and the release of Indian pilot have at least given a pause to this spiral, which was otherwise probably moving at a certain pace — we could not predict what next would happen. So one good outcome out of this episode of last week has been that right now things are calm and there is a pause. But yes, India would still continue to kind of move ahead and see how the terror bases in Pakistan can be further eliminated. But for the time being, military action is kind of on the hold from the Indian side. Matters have calmed down for the time being, at present, right now.
Sputnik: We know that India is due to have elections soon. How much could this standoff affect Mr Modi’s chances in terms of re-election in the upcoming vote? I think historically we all tend to understand that when there is some kind of armed conflict and a country shows a robust nature towards conflict, it does have a positive effect on the prime minister or president of that particular country. Do you see that happening? Is that going to increase Modi’s popularity and his chances of re-election?
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