ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians chief Asif Ali Zardari has feared that Pakistan-United States ties are heading to a collapse.

The former President said the struggle between Pakistan and the United States over funding for the purchase of F-16 fighter jets laid bare how far apart the two countries had grown.

His statement came after US State Department spokesman John Kirby said the relationship between the US and Pakistan was important and vital even if they were ‘complicated’ at times.

“It is an important, vital relationship that we strongly believe in. Is it complicated at times? Absolutely, it is,” he added.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had earlier said the bilateral ties were under stress for the past three months.

Zardari said that the Pak-US bilateral relationship had suffered tremendously over the last fifteen years. “What was once a strong partnership allied against threats to the region from Russia and other non-state actors has frayed and is getting weaker,” he maintained.

The PPPP chief said Pakistan had emerged in the region as a strong democratic nation focused on providing safety and prosperity for its people.

“Our nation is young, the average age is eighteen and demographically we will grow tremendously over the next few decades. We are a growing power in the region with significant new investment coming from the east,” he said.

Zardari said to strengthen democracy officials in the government, regardless of their party persuasion must be able to demonstrate that they can provide for the safety of their people.

“I encourage the United States to look beyond its check list 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,” he added.

Zardari said that no one could argue that the Pakistani people suffered from terror activity within their own borders.

“Already this year there have been repeated attacks in Pakistan from Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements looking to disrupt our civil society. The attacks at the Army Public School in Peshawar, explosion in Quetta, Bacha Khan University killing, explosions in Charsada and recent bombing in Lahore that killed 74 and injured 338 demonstrate the dimensions of this problem,” he said.

Zardari said Pakistanis were literally fighting for their lives. “If there are factions in the US Congress that don’t believe we are committed to fighting terrorists they should come to Pakistan and witness to the violence that our people have inflicted on them from organizations,” he added.

Officials from both the countries have made public statements recently that describe a relationship that is dysfunctional. The New York Times has recently described strategic interests between the countries as both troubling but necessary.

Recently, the comments by the US State Department can be read as supportive of Pakistan’s need for new weapon systems to step up its fight against terror. But, Congress and specifically Senator Bob Crocker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee remain opposed to supporting the fighter deal.

This week State Department officials from the United States will be in Pakistan for meeting with our government leaders.

“I hope they will take this opportunity to assure us that they remain committed to supporting our security needs,” Zardari said.

He said one must only look to the example set by the US in response to the horrible attacks in NYC at the World Trade Centre in 2001.

“With all their might they crushed the Taliban’s grip on Afghanistan. But after fifteen years the fight continues and arguably the Taliban is stronger today than it was ten years ago. It’s only together, as democratic nations we can succeed in the struggle against terror. When it comes to the safety of its people Pakistan speaks with one unified voice. I hope the United States can find its unified voice to join ours,” the former President said.