The US Department of Defence has announced that it has approved a $125 million military sale to Pakistan by providing a Technical Security Team (TST) to support the fleet of F-16 fighters stationed in the South Asian country. The sale, about which the US Congress was notified, will allow the Pentagon to closely monitor the use of the jets by Pakistan "24x7".
The move is also expected to "support the foreign policy and national security" of the US, according to a state department spokesperson, cited by the Press Trust of India. At the same time, the Pentagon's plan doesn't bring any changes to US President Donald Trump's January 2018 decision to freeze security assistance to Pakistan, the official noted.
The Pentagon's plan to monitor the jets comes after India's accusations that Pakistan has misused its F-16s. The aircraft were provided to the country for the purpose of combating terrorism, but India claims that Pakistan used one in an incident in February 2019, when at least one Indian Air Force (IAF) jet was downed.
Islamabad has denied the accusations and said that it used other fighter aircraft in the aerial skirmish. A US probe conducted at the request of India also failed to prove the use of F-16s.
The dogfight took place after the IAF conducted airstrikes on Pakistan's territory against alleged positions of a terrorist group that had earlier attacked an Indian security convoy. Islamabad slammed the air raid, claiming that no terrorist camps were located in the targeted area. Following the incident, Pakistani-Indian relations spiralled downward, leading to several exchanges of fire along the Line of Control separating the states, as well as a closure of airspace for civilian flights.