Sun, Dec 25, 2011 - Page 4 News List

US pledges to work with Pakistan, support democracy

AFP, Washington

The US said on Friday that it was committed to working with Pakistan and pledged support for democracy, amid friction between the war partners and a political showdown in Islamabad.

“The issues that we face — the challenges we face — are too important,” US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

“We desire a closer, more productive relationship with Pakistan, both militarily as well as politically and we are constantly working to build that closer cooperation,” he said.

Relations between the US and Pakistan have severely -deteriorated this year. On Nov. 26, US airstrikes near the Afghan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, leading Islamabad to halt supply routes for NATO forces.

The Pentagon on Thursday released a probe that acknowledged significant US responsibility and pinned blame on mistrust between the countries, but the investigation said that US forces responded only after coming under fire.

Pakistan denied its forces had fired first and rejected the probe. It has pressed US President Barack Obama for an apology.

Tensions have also been rising within Pakistan, with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday delivering -unprecedented sharp criticism against the military and accusing “conspirators” of plotting to bring down his government.

Asked about the dispute, Toner said: “We support the democratic process in Pakistan, we support the constitution and the rule of law, as well as the will of the Pakistani people.”

However, he added: “This is a matter for the Pakistani people to resolve within their own political process.”

Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani on Friday denied that the military was plotting to seize power. The military has a long history of intervening in politics in Pakistan.

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