LAHORE: Founder Chairman Pak-US Business Council Iftikhar Ali Malik Tuesday, slamming the US decision to block 300 million dollars in aid said that Pakistan needs immediate direct access to US markets and not aid as it has suffered irreparable colossal financial loss for playing frontline role in the war on terror and US must support Pakistan to achieve its economic prosperity and self-reliance.In his statement issued here in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visit to Pakistan said that Pompeo must play his crucial role to diffuse recent strains between Pakistan and USA as cordial relation between both the partners is inevitable for the restoration of peace and prosperity in the region. He said the Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan has been blocked whereas the payment of USD 800 million is pending at US end. Most importantly, this decision has been made ahead of US Secretary of State’s visit to Pakistan, which is against ethical norms. He said United States is trying to exert pressure on Pakistan regarding failure of its policies in Afghanistan. The Trump’s policies have been criticized by even US think tanks as these policies are taking United States towards isolation. No one can deny the fact that Pakistan is the only country in the world, which has successfully stamped out the menace of terrorism from its soil. “To win the war in Afghanistan, America needs Pakistan for supply routes as well as to negotiate a lasting settlement and peace in Afghanistan. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan could worsen further, if the Trump Administration follows the decision to cut off aid to Pakistan,” he added.Iftikhar Malik said he is much optimistic that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tour to Pakistan would help reduce tension besides agreeing on promoting durable peace in the region and fostering trade between US and Pakistan. He said joint efforts are needed to further cement the existing economic ties between Pakistan and US private sector and for this purpose the American government should provide direct access to Pakistani products in its markets, at zero duty. He said the USA should remove the bottlenecks in bilateral investment treaty and efforts should now be made on signing a free trade agreement (FTA) at the earliest and it was now imperative that the USA should offer same package and incentives which it offered to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in textile exports, such as duty concessions and market access,” said a press release issued here.“There must be an incentive package for Pakistan for being a front-line state in combating terrorism with the USA. There is a need for duty cut and market access for Pakistani textile goods to the USA,” he added. He said that Pakistan is time tested friend and suffered enormous economic losses running in billions of dollars in the wake of war on terrorism in the region. He further said visa restrictions should be eased for the Pakistani businessmen and exporters and joint efforts were needed to further strengthen the existing economic ties between Pakistan and US private sector. He said Pakistan and US were enjoying amicable relationship and coalition partners against war on terror.He said Hillary Clinton former Secretary of State at one on one meeting with him during her last visit to Pakistan promised to develop Reconstruction of Zones (ROZ) which he added still awaited to be materialized.He said Pakistan desired peace and stability in Afghanistan as peace in Kabul was good for the entire region but the veteran trade leader Iftikhar Ali Malik stressed that after 16 years of conflict, it was clear that lasting peace in Afghanistan could only be achieved through a comprehensive political process with the active participation of Pakistan.Iftikhar Malik suggested the United States and Pakistan should expand cooperation on the 2013 Joint Action Plan on Trade and Investment as the United States remains Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market and a significant source of foreign direct investment. He said it would be in the interest of both the countries to enhance their trade volume which had been hovering around $5 billion for the last five years.Published in Daily Times, September 5th 2018.