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Zardari urges US to look beyond 'checklist of requirements' for cooperation with Pakistan

Zardari urges US to look beyond 'checklist of requirements' for cooperation with Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: As ties between Pakistan and the United States (US) come under stress in the wake of a fallout over funding for F-16 fighter jets, former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called on the US to assure Pakistan of commitment to its security needs.

Zardari urged the US to "look beyond its checklist of requirements for cooperation on our security needs and instead think strategically about how it can support a democratic nation under pressure from the same terror groups that threaten regional security".

The former president, who has traditionally maintained good ties with US, said that the Pak-US bilateral relationship "has suffered tremendously over the last 15 years".

"The struggle between Pakistan and the US over funding for the purchase of F-16 fighter jets lays bare how far apart the two countries have grown," he said, adding, "What was once a strong partnership... has frayed and is getting weaker."

The PPP leader expressed hope that US State Department officials currently in Pakistan for meetings with top government officials will "take this opportunity to assure us that they remain committed to supporting our security needs".

"We are literally fighting for our lives," he said, inviting "factions in the US Congress that don't believe we are committed to fighting terrorists" to come to Pakistan and "bear witness to the violence" as a result of terrorism.

Recent statements by both countries describe a "dysfunctional" relationship, he said, taking note of a damning editorial published by the New York Times last week which implicated Pakistan for the mess in Afghanistan and termed Islamabad a “duplicitous” and “dangerous” partner for the US and Afghanistan.

Know more: Ambassador Jilani censures NYT over damning editorial on Pak role in Afghanistan

The editorial, he said, described strategic interests between the countries as "both troubling but necessary".

However, he added, recent comments by the US State Department "can read as supportive of Pakistan's needs for new weapon systems to step up its fight against terror".

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