ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is looking beyond the United States to ‘move on’ as tension between the two nations touched new heights, diplomatic sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan will support China and Russia’s policies on the global issues rather than toeing Washington’s line.

One official said Pakistan had ‘decided’ to end dependence on the US and build ties with Russia and other influential countries. “With China, we already have friendly relations. We will build them further. We are getting closer to Russia and have intensified contacts with influential countries like the UK (United Kingdom) and France,” he said.

Another official said Pakistan was now ‘fed-up’ with Washington’s undue expectations and was ‘ready to move on’. “Why should we not stand with the countries who are listening to us (Pakistan)? We are tired of convincing Washington on the issues (related to anti-terror war),” he said.

The official said that Pakistan did not want to completely boycott the US but was considering backing Chinese and Russian initiatives on the global issues. “We are in contact with the UK and France and they have responded well. The US is important but not more important than our sovereignty. We will try to save ties with them (the US) and minimize damage but (will) work on new friends like Russia,” he said.

Last week, Pakistan issued a new travel permission regime for the American diplomats, restricting their movement and revoking privileges. Amid the strained ties, the Islamabad High Court ruled that US Defence and Air Attaché Colonel Emanual Joseph – who had killed a Pakistani in a car incident - did not have ‘absolute immunity’.

In January, the US suspended security assistance to Pakistan targeting the Coalition Support Fund. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US was suspending ‘security assistance only’ to Pakistan. She had said Pakistan will be able to receive the suspended funding if it took ‘decisive actions’ against the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan claims the money it had received from the US was mainly reimbursements for supporting US-led coalition forces after they invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Islamabad also made it clear that the US aid did not run Pakistan’s anti-terror affairs or play a significant economic role. Islamabad also threatened to end the partnership if pressed to the limits. Former foreign minister, Khawaja Mohammed Asif, even publically snubbed Washington saying the alliance with the US was “over”.

This month, the US House Armed Services Committee called for further cuts to US military aid provided to Pakistan until the country demonstrates a commitment to tackle the insurgency. In his markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2019, the committee’s chairman Mac Thornberry said $ 350 million of the $ 700 million allocated to Pakistan under the CSF should be withheld.

Opposition Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said Pakistan wanted cordial relations with the international world including the US. “The recent low in relations with the US is not a good sign. But, at the same time we should take decisions on our own to safeguard Pakistan’s sovereignty,” she said.

Senator Rehman, a former Pakistan ambassador to the US, said Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan was belatedly given charge of the Foreign Ministry after Asif was disqualified. “Why did we have to demand it in parliament for government to wake up to the Urgent need for a full-time FM,” she questioned.

Former Pakistan ambassador to International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Sarwar Naqvi said the diplomatic row between Pakistan and the US could damage the bilateral ties in the long run. “Pakistan has taken a brave and commendable decision (of restricting US diplomats’ movement). We should not compromise on sovereignty,” he said.