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Value- and Interest-based US Foreign Policy in South Asia

Updated: Mar 15

The U.S. F-16 Deal poses a threat to U.S. Foreign Policy goals, especially those related to the Indo-Pacific and China.

Big Picture

On Sept. 7, 2022, the United States of America approved the sale and sustainment of F-16 jets to Pakistan. In a press release delivered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on the topic, it was stated that the primary purpose of the sale was to maintain the counterterrorism capabilities of the Pakistani Air Force. India, a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD or Quad) and an important strategic and geopolitical ally of the U.S., shows disapproval of the F-16 deal. Tensions between the allies run high with the Indian Foreign Minister asking the U.S. to re-evaluate the deal’s benefits.

Operative Definitions

  1. Counterterrorism: Refers to any activities of a military or government that are performed with the intention of stopping terrorist attacks or eradicating terrorist groups; often used interchangeably with anti-terrorism. 

  2. Sustainment: In a purely militaristic sense, the supplying of any services and/or support necessary to keep an operation running until its conclusion.

  3. Quad: A shortened version of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue; refers to the “Quadrilateral Alliance” between the United States, Japan, India and Australia. The primary purpose of the alliance is to counter and contain the growth of China in the Indo-Pacific. 

Important Facts and Statistics

  1. The current U.S.-Pakistan F-16 deal comes after four years of disruption. Trump had suspended the sustainment program in 2018. 

  2. One of the primary reasons for the renewal of the F-16 deal is counterterrorism. However, Pakistan has often been scrutinized for being a state sponsor of terror globally, which resulted in the nation being included in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “grey list.” 

  3. India is a crucial geostrategic ally of the United States. The country shares similar values with the U.S. and views the sale of arms to Pakistan as a “backstabbing move that arms the enemy.”

Two-Point Plan

(1) Increase commitment towards India and the Quad.

One of the best ways for the U.S. to ensure South Asia remains a stable playing field is to set up better lines of exchange in the realm of military technology with India. This can further be facilitated by setting up technological and weapons research and development projects with all the Quad members.

(2) Create hurdles for select countries to acquire modern and updated weapon technology.

The United States, being a global promoter of peace and democracy, should create a system in which the acquisition of the latest weapons from the U.S. involves an established set of requirements. These could include things such as political stability, compliance with international law and absence from the FATF grey list (with the exception of NATO countries).

Why This Initiative Is Important

The initiative comes at a crucial time for the United States. The Ukraine war has broken the last remnants of relative peace in the global world order. China’s rapid growth and enlarging ambitions aim to destabilize the fundamental foundations that the U.S. has previously created. During such turbulent times, a capable and reliable ally, such as India, in the South Asian region is indispensable for the United States. The F-16 deal is not important enough to draw Pakistan away from the influence of China, which also happens to be its neighbor. However, the F-16 deal creates serious doubts in the minds of Indian leadership, and this could further destabilize Indo-U.S. relations. The U.S.-Pakistan F-16 deal also does not align with the current U.S. Foreign Policy goals, especially those related to the Indo-Pacific and China. It poses little to no benefit to U.S. military strategy and, in the long run, may turn out to do much more harm than good.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


“Counterterrorism Definition and Meaning: Collins English Dictionary.” Collins English Dictionary, HarperCollins Publishers,

Gan, Nectar. “China Is Alarmed By The Quad. But Its Threats Are Driving The Group Closer Together | CNN.” Edition.Cnn.Com, 2022,

“Pakistan – F-16 Case For Sustainment | Defense Security Cooperation Agency.” Dsca.Mil, 2022,

Stigall, Dan Stigall et al. “The 2018 U.S. National Strategy For Counterterrorism: A Synoptic Overview.” Papers.Ssrn.Com, 2019.

Wade, Norman M. Sustainment & Multifunctional Logistics: Guide to Operational & Tactical Level Sustainment. 5th ed., The Lightning Press, 2021. 


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