ISLAMABAD: Islamabad yesterday expressed disappointment over New Delhi’s out of the way ‘reaction’ to the United States selling eight F-16 jet fighters to Pakistan.

“We are surprised and disappointed at the Indian government’s reaction”, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in response to media queries.

He said India is the largest importer of defence equipment and its arms and arsenal stock is much larger than Pakistan.

As regards F-16s sale, the spokesperson said Pakistan and the US closely cooperate in countering terrorism. He said the US spokesperson clearly announced that the sale is to enhance Pakistan’s precision strike capability.

A ‘disappointed’ India on Saturday summoned the US envoy in New Delhi, Richard Verma, to ‘convey its displeasure’ regarding the Obama administration’s decision to notify the sale of the aircraft to Pakistan.

In an effort to calm the raw Indian nerves, Ambassador Verma later on Sunday described the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan as “part of a legacy announcement”.

“It’s part of a bit of a legacy announcement that was made several years ago,” he told newsmen in New Delhi. He said the US policy is to support the moderate elements in Pakistan and most of their support to the country was in civilian fields.

On the other hand, the US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner in his news briefing acknowledged that no country in the region had been more touched by terrorism than Pakistan.

“We believe it’s in our vital national security interests to support Pakistan in carrying out its efforts to destroy these terrorist networks, and we believe it’s an important partner in the region in achieving a stable and secure Afghanistan,” Toner said.

Earlier in January, Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the National Assembly that an Indian lobby as well as Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US were “working against us” and had approached the US House of Representatives to lobby against the sale of the fighter jets, causing a delay.

“There are technical processes like the Congressional ratification. Our policy in Pakistan is to support the moderate elements, to support democracy,” US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said in his media talk.

“There is a big counter-terrorism insurgency component as well. Over the years our assistance to Pakistan has been a mix of both civilian and military equipment,” he said.

“It will surprise people that two-thirds of our aid to Pakistan is civilian aid...for energy, education, infrastructure and public development,” he added.

“There are also dangerous groups operating in Pakistan and military tools are required. It is part and parcel of why this sale went through, to tackle...that kind of terrorism and insurgency capability”, the envoy said.

Security analysts believed that Pakistan urgently needs the aircraft to meet its combat needs for the ongoing major counter terrorism operation Zarb-e-Azb through which Pakistan has made significant achievements against the terrorists on Pak-Afghan border. They also believed that any delay in the delivery of the highly specialised aircraft could undermine the gains Pakistan had made during the operation.

Former senior diplomat Fauzia Nasreen told The Nation that Pakistan has always played its positive role for dialogue with India on the issue of Kashmir.

“Pakistan’s stance on the issue is very logical, which may lead to peaceful resolution of the dispute at hand. The United Nations and the United States must pressurise India for the solution of the matter,” she said.

Nasreen said all the stakeholders must be taken on board. “China can also play a positive role in solving the issue because the prosperity of the region depends on the permanent solution of Kashmir issue,” she added.

Analyst Dr Mohammed Khan said once the Kashmir issue is resolved, the two nations will concentrate more on business than the blame game. He said India itself took up this matter on the forum of the United Nations but now it was not implementing its resolutions. Khan said the trust level could get a boost only when the two countries become friendlier to each other.