Registration: Pak. unhappy with U.S.

KARACHI Oct. 3. Pakistan has expressed unhappiness over the decision of the United States to start registering its citizens entering it, as a security measure.

"The Government is particularly annoyed because it sees itself as a close ally of the United States," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman. He pointed out that such a policy was `unfair' given his country's support for the American "war on terror".

He said Pakistan had expressed its `concern' to the American authorities. The U.S. decision to register all Pakistani men between 16 and 45 entering the United States has caused embarrassment to the Musharraf government.

In the last few months, the military government has been trying to impress people to understand the enormous benefits accrued to the country on account of the support extended to the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism. Last week, Pakistan and the U.S. held four days of formal talks on defence cooperation.

Pakistan was elated over the revival of the Pak-U.S. Defence Group for strengthening military cooperation and marketed it as a major breakthrough. Islamabad had given the U.S. a list of defence equipment it wants from America.

The U.S. reduced military aid to Pakistan in 1990 because of its nuclear programme and further sanctions were imposed after nuclear tests. But Islamabad has been hoping for greater support from the U.S. since it became one of Washington's most important allies in the hunt for members of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network. However, the detention of a number of Pakistanis in the U.S. in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks, mostly on charges of violation of immigration laws was a major irritant in the newly forged bond between Islamabad and Washington.

It took a great deal of persuasion and effort on the part of the Pakistan Foreign Office to impress upon the American authorities to release the detained persons. Long delays in issuance of visas to Pakistani citizens are the other irritant in the ties between the two countries.

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