According to Wikileaks documents, the only reason the US agreed to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan was in case of any eventuality so that Islamabad could fall back on conventional warfare and not resort to utilising its nuclear weapons.
Even as India continues to insist that Pakistan violated the F-16 purchase agreement with the US during the aerial clash with India on 27 February, a correspondence of Anne Patterson, the then-US ambassador in Islamabad’s with the State Department in 2008, reads that F-16 aircraft, armed with AMRAAMS, were meant to essentially buy time to delay Pakistan considering their nuclear option in a conflict with India.
Given India’s overwhelming military superiority, this would only be a few days but would allow critical time to mediate and prevent nuclear conflict, according to WikiLeaks.
The cable between the former US ambassador in Islamabad Anne Patterson and the State Department in Washington on 24 April 2008 clearly states that the deal, among other things, meant to assuage Pakistan’s fears of an “existential threat it perceived from India.”
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“To overcome overwhelming Indian military superiority, Pakistan developed both its nuclear/missile program and its air power. F-16 aircraft, armed with AMRAAMS, essentially buy time to delay Pakistan considering the nuclear option in a conflict with India. Given India’s overwhelming military superiority, this would only be a few days, but these days would allow critical time to meditate and prevent nuclear conflict,” were the views of Anne Patterson, the then-US ambassador in Islamabad.
Following the 27 February aerial clash, the Indian Air Force demonstrated parts of an AMRAAM missile which fell down inside Indian territory. Though Pakistan denied having used F-16s in the dogfight, India argued that Pakistan does not have any other fighters capable of firing an AMRAAM missile.
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