ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has asked the United States not to toe the Indian line on the ongoing tension between the nuclear armed neighbours, officials said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had urged the US to play ‘neutral’ and help defuse Pak-India tension.

“The US has been pressing us to give evidence that F-16s were not used against India (in the recent clash). This is an Indian line. We have told them (the US) a number of times that F-16s were not used,” said one official.

He said India was trying to spoil Pakistan-US ties but Islamabad was active diplomatically to counter the attempts.

Another official said Pakistan had appreciated President Donald Trump’s efforts for peace in South Asia. “There is no tension between Pakistan and the US but there has been a pressure (from Washington) on the F-16 issue. We are trying to convince them F-16s have not been used. Pakistan wants peace with India and has sought the US help to achieve the goal,” he added.

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan said he was not aware of any request made by the US about the use of F-16 fighter jets by his country in the recent aerial confrontation with India.  The Indian Air Force displayed parts of an AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence to ‘conclusively’ prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets while responding to Indian aggression.

The US State Department has said that America was seeking more information from Pakistan on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by it against India in violation of the end-user agreement.

The US is looking into reports that Pakistan ‘misused’ American-made F-16 jets during an aerial engagement with India last week that brought the two nuclear armed neighbours to the brink of conflict.

Both Pakistan and India launched airstrikes over the Line of Control in the first such incursion since 1971. Two Indian jets were shot down in the dogfight and its pilot held in Pakistan custody for two days before Islamabad released him back to New Delhi.

Pakistan has not specified which planes it used but it assembles Chinese-designed JF-17 fighter jets on its soil. Pakistan has a long history of buying US military hardware, especially in the years after 2001 when Islamabad was seen as a key partner in the US-led “war on terror.”

Pakistan bought several batches of F-16 planes, built by Lockheed Martin Corp, from Washington before relations soured and the US cut off subsidised sales in 2016.

The escalation of tensions in relations between Pakistan and India was caused by an attack on an Indian military car convoy in held Kashmir on February 14, which killed 45 soldiers.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed group claimed responsibility for the attack. Later, India carried out an air strike across the Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force hit back and downed two India jets.

One pilot was also captured but was released after brief detention.

The situation in held Kashmir - where Muslims constitute a majority - has been tense for years. The territory of the ancient principality of Kashmir has been a matter of dispute between Pakistan and India since 1947.