ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is unlikely to be delisted as the ‘major’ non-NATO ally of the United States despite the difference between the uneasy allies, officials said here on Monday.

The popped up after Andy Briggs, an influential US Republican Congressman, introduced a piece of legislation in Congress to terminate the designation of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally.

Senior officials at the Pakistan foreign ministry told The Nation that the relations between Pakistan and the US were not as bad as they used to be in the previous months.

“We (Pakistan and the US) still have differences but these differences are manageable. The ties have improved over the months (after Pakistan recently arranged a US-Taliban meeting in Abu Dhabi to discuss peace),” said one official.

He said visits had been exchanged between the two countries which rekindled the hope to revive the friendship.

Another official said since there was possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump, the US will not take any harsh decision against Pakistan.

“Even if they (Imran Khan and Trump) don’t meet, the two countries are engaged in high-level talks. The US seems satisfied with our efforts towards peace in the region and is optimistic about building the confidence level. They are hopeful about working with Pakistan for Afghanistan peace and the regional stability,” he added.

The resolution 73, introduced in the House of Representatives by Andy Briggs, seeks termination of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally and also sets conditions for its re-designation if any. The resolution has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

The resolution says, for future re-designation, the US President needed to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continued to conduct military operations that were contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in the country.

It also seeks certification from the Congress that Pakistan had taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven and that Pakistan actively coordinated with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants, such as the Haqqani Network, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad meanwhile is arriving on a five-day visit to Pakistan today (January 15) to meet senior civil and military officials. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells is also expected to visit Pakistan this week.

Khalilzad will also hold delegation-level talks at the foreign office regarding the Afghan peace process, dialogue with the Taliban and the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The US envoy is leading a delegation of officials in his four-nation two-week visit from January 8-21, including Pakistan, India, China and Afghanistan. He is meeting senior government officials in each country during his visit to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement.

The US State Department said Ambassador Khalilzad continues to coordinate his efforts with President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan stakeholders to ensure an intra-Afghan peace process.

“The US goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement where every Afghan citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law,” the state department said in a statement.

During his previous visit in December, Khalilzad said that the only solution to the conflict was for all parties to sit together and reach an agreement on the future of the war-torn country with mutual respect and acceptance.

This month, Donald Trump said that he wanted a ‘great relationship’ with Pakistan and is looking forward to meeting the new leadership in that country.

Trump told his Cabinet colleagues in the same meeting that he had ended $1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan because ‘this South Asian country houses enemies.’

The US President underscored that his administration had initiated peace talks with the Taliban. He also announced that a meeting with the new leadership of Pakistan will take place ‘very soon.’

South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, who is considered close to President Trump, said in an interview that if Pakistan helped the US in bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations, then the US would focus on counterterrorism and the IS.

Imran Khan was sworn in as Prime Minister in August last year. The cricketer turned politician had said in January last year that meeting US President Trump would be a ‘bitter pill’ to swallow but added: “I would meet him.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had met Prime Minister Khan in Islamabad in September last year and pressed him to take “sustained and decisive measures” against terrorists threatening the regional peace and stability.