Two US legislators in a joint piece written for a Washington-based think tank on Thursday urged the Trump administration to rethink "toxic" ties with Pakistan.

“Something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon. Acquiescing in the current trends is not an option,” Congressman Ted Poe and James Clad wrote in the National Interest magazine.

“There’s a tendency to think of Pakistan as part of a troubling duality, with India and Pakistan in a death spiral. That’s out of date - and we have our issues with India too.”

Pakistani, they argued, had become a “quasi-adversary, receiving hundreds of billions through the years in direct and indirect US support”. The legislators claimed they had supported “conditionality to successive aid packages for Pakistan” which, according to them, “invariably fail”.

They suggested three immediate steps the US administration could take to reset America’s relationship with Pakistan: “Don’t let the next crisis in South or Southwest Asia deflect our focus. Don’t rush to shore up Pakistan’s balance of payments via the IMF or other intermediaries, as we’ve done in the past. Let China pay that, if the Pakistanis wish to mortgage their future in that way.”

The writers claimed that successive Pakistani military leaders had held the country’s governments on a tight leash, “playing to its various constituencies in Washington very well, especially defence corporations, some residual voices in the intelligence community and parts of the foreign-policy establishment for whom ‘maintaining access’ in Islamabad edges out realism”.

They also claimed that China’s “one belt, one road infrastructure plans for Pakistan are running into big problems”.

Congressman Poe chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism, non-proliferation and trade, while Clad was a deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asia in the George W Bush administration.