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August 15, 2018

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Ali Siddiqui hopes Pak-US ties will improve soon

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Ali Jahangir Siddiqui has said the discontinuing security assistance and military training programmes to Pakistan is a lose-lose scenario for both the countries and hinted that strained relations would be over soon and the two countries will come together for shared interests.

Talking to The News after the Independence Day ceremony at the embassy here on Tuesday, the ambassador maintained that the world not only acknowledges Pakistan's sacrifices against terrorism but also wants to learn from its efforts and experiences.

The International Military Education and Training (IMET) programme is crucial for the two countries, the ambassador commented, adding the programme has not only been beneficial for Pakistan but also for the United States. Hoping that the IMET programme would also revived soon, the ambassador said: "There has been a realisation on both the sides about the impacts of this programme, so when both countries will move forward on re-establishing security related assistance, the military training would be one of the earliest programmes to be re-established as well."

The US National Defence Authorisation Act for the next fiscal year that was passed last week, and signed by President Trump yesterday, has slashed security assistance to Pakistan. The aid that once stood at almost $750 million was marked down to 150 million dollars.

Significantly, it also took dropped the condition for Pakistan to take action against the Haqqani Network and other militant organisations. Ali said that all efforts are also being made to establish trust and remove travel related restrictions on diplomatic staffers imposed earlier this year. He said the relations between the two countries have been so deep and historic that even Quaid-e-Azam had read out congratulatory message from the United States after the creation of the country.

Ali Siddiqui said the incoming PTI-led government had announced to maintain a balanced relationship with the Trump administration. "The prime minister-elect Imran Khan's statement indicates how the relationship would shape up; and we would bid to follow that," he said.

Earlier, during the independence day ceremony, the ambassador hoisted the national flag and received felicitation messages from the US officials. Scores of Pakistani Americans attended the event besdies the Secretary of State for the state of Maryland, John Smith. Ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, Congressman Brad Sherman also greeted the people of Pakistan. "I appreciate the significance of the US-Pakistan relationship as well as the importance of the

"I appreciate the significance of the US-Pakistan relationship as well as the importance of the friendship between our two countries, our history of cooperation, and Pakistan's role as an ally during the Cold War. I am committed to strengthening our bilateral relations and advancing our shared interests. Pakistan's policies are pivotal to the stability of South Asia and to American interests in that region," he said in his message.

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