US looking into reports Pakistan violated arms agreement in Kashmir

Pakistani F-16 fighter jets fly past during a Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2017.

(CNN)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 neighbors to the brink of conflict.

Both India and Pakistan launched airstrikes over the Line of Control -- the de facto border that separates the two countries in disputed Kashmir -- in the first such incursion since 1971. An Indian jet was shot down in the dogfight and its pilot held in Pakistan custody for several days before Islamabad released him back to New Delhi on Friday.
The Indian Air Force said that Pakistan used US-made F-16 fighter jets in the raid that brought down the Indian pilot on Wednesday, in a possible violation of the terms of use by the US.
    Pakistan has stated that no F-16s were used in the operation, though it hasn't specified what military equipment was involved.
    A US Department of State official told CNN that it was "aware of reports" that the use of F-16 jets may have been in violation of the terms of use agreement and is "looking into them."
    Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC on Monday, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan, said that he was not aware of any request from the US about the alleged use of F-16s.
    "On F-16, I don't know, India has been alleging so many other things. We don't get into every single one of them. I am not aware of request from the US side about the F-16," he said.

    Strong military relationship with US and China

    Following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan became a major US ally in the Bush administration's so-called war on terror and a big recipient of American military aid.
    Arms deals with Pakistan reached $3.5 billion in 2006, making the South Asian nation the US's biggest arms purchaser. In its haul, Pakistan bought dozens of F-16 fighter jets as well as a variety of bombs and anti-ship missiles.
    As part of the purchasing agreement, the US puts certain restrictions on how its military equipment can be used. It is unclear what restrictions were placed on the use of Pakistan's F-16 jets.
    The US began suspending military aid to Pakistan in 2016 over what it saw as a failure by the Pakistani government to adequately clamp down on terror groups within its borders. In 2018, it was estimated that the assistance being suspended was more than $1 billion.