Last week, US President Donald Trump, in a bid to squeeze the Pakistani military further slashed military aid meant for Islamabad. US Congress approved the National Defense Authorisation Act-2019 (NDAA-19) which capped its security-related aid to Pakistan to $150 million, significantly below the historic $1 billion to $750 million per year.In January 2018, the US suspended more than$1.15 billion in security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its borders and showing unwillingness to take “decisive action” against them. The US has also voiced its disapproval of growing Chinese involvement in Pakistan, adding to tensions in bilateral ties. Two weeks earlier US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had cautioned the IMF against a possible fresh bailout for Pakistan’s new government, to pay off Chinese lenders who have invested in the strategic China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).Now it has emerged that the Trump administration has quietly started cutting scores of Pakistani officers from coveted training and educational programmes. These have been a hallmark of bilateral military relations between Pakistan and the US for decades. The effective suspension of Pakistan from the US government’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will write-off positions that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year, a State Department spokesperson has informed the media.Suspension of military training for Pakistani officers is not unprecedented. Readers may recall that after the Soviet troops had retreated from Afghanistan, the US did not require Pakistan’s alliance any longer. Thus the authorities in Washington DC invoked the Pressler Amendment. As Chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, Larry Pressler had advocated the infamous Pressler Amendment, enforced in 1990. Aid and military sales to Pakistan were blocked, including a consignment of F-16 fighter aircraft, changing forever the tenor of the United States relationships with Pakistan and India, and making Pressler a temporary hero throughout India and a devil in Pakistan.I myself was personally effected by this development. Having topped the Staff College qualifying examination as well as securing top grades in the Staff College, I was selected to undergo a Masters Degree program at the Armed Forces Institute of Technology (AFIT) in Ohio. Clearing various hurdles and waiting for departure along with my family for the two years degree course, my hopes were dashed when the Pressler Amendment was enforced. Suspension of military training for Pakistani officers is not unprecedented. Readers may recall that after the Soviet troops had retreated from Afghanistan, the US did not require Pakistan’s alliance any longer. Thus the authorities in Washington DC invoked the Pressler AmendmentDan Feldman, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the move “very short-sighted and myopic.” The move will hurt the US more than Pakistan. Hundreds of Pakistani armed forces personnel have been trained at US Staff and War Colleges, and other professional military training institutions. For decades, Pakistani military officers trained in the US, have risen in ranks, and even commanded their respective forces. They have been on a first name basis relationships with their US counterparts, which enabled both sides to stem the tide and shore up bilateral tensions and even conduct joint operations. Such deep rooted leverage will be lost to the US, which is engaged in operations in Afghanistan and counter terrorism engagements in the region.Trump has forced Pakistan’s hand, which has already moved on. A top level Russian military delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Colonel General Alexander V. Fomin visited Pakistan this month to attend the first session of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC).An agreement was signed between Pakistan and Russia for training of Pakistani troops in Russia at the culmination of the first meeting. Russian military has participated in war games with its Pakistani counterparts and the Pakistani military is also purchasing more and more Russian military hardware. Pakistan’s defense ties with Russia are on the rise, which will be beneficial for both. Similarly, Sino-Pakistan relations are at their zenith and the armed forces cooperation between the two has reached an unprecedented level.Donald Trump is widening the breach between the US and Pakistan, which may become unbridgeable. In the past, the US military had traditionally sought to shield IMET and other educational programmes from political tensions, arguing that the ties built by bringing foreign military officers to the US pay long-term dividends.That deep professional relationship and camaraderie will cease to exist and Pakistan, which has already become a full-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), will be constrained to rely on Russia and China.The writer is a retired PAF Group Captain. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on ChinaPublished in Daily Times, August 18th 2018.