US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that no country including America should make the mistake of moving away from the democratically elected civilian leadership in Pakistan.
"There are certain decisions that are made by different leaders within their government, but it would be a mistake, and it's a mistake that the US has made continuously over the last 63 years, to move away from the democratically elected civilian leadership of Pakistan," Clinton told reporters at a White House news conference.
The goal of the Obama Administration, she said, is to help support that leadership understand how to deliver and show that democracy produces results for people.
"We intend to do that. We deal with the leaders of Pakistan, and we do it in a very whole-of-government approach. And the strategic dialogue has given us the mechanism to be able to do that," she said.
Clinton argued that there has been progress in Pakistan.
"I think the President and each of us have alluded to some of the signposts of that progress. We still have a lot to do. And the floods were a major challenge to not only the people of Pakistan, but also to our strategy, because we had adopted an approach to change how we were doing aid, to be much more responsive to what the Pakistanis themselves needed and wanted, as opposed to what we thought they should need or want," she said.
"So, I think that we have made progress. We've made progress in certainly our military cooperation, but also our civilian cooperation."
"I think as with any question about, leadership or who's in charge, we deal with the entire government. As the (US) President said, he talks to President Zardari. I deal with the civilian leadership. We also talk to the military leadership. Admiral (Mike) Mullen (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) has developed a very positive, cooperative relationship with (Pak Army Chief) General (Ashfaq Pervez) Kayani. (CIA Chief) Leon Panetta deals regularly with the director general of the ISI, General Pasha," Clinton said.
She said that when the present administration took over from the Bush Administration, it had very little in the way of an understanding with Pakistan that the extremists who threatened the US were allied with those who threatened them, and that, in effect, they were creating a syndicate of terrorism.
"In fact, when we came into office, the Pakistanis had agreed to an ill conceived peace agreement with the Pakistani Taliban that was consistently and persistently expanding their territorial reach," Clinton said.
Besides being told that the strategy was not a right one, Pakistanis were also made aware about the objections as it would provide greater territory for al-Qaeda and their allies to operate, she said.
"So what happened? The Pakistanis took an entirely different approach. They moved 140,000 troops off the Indian border. They waged an ongoing conflict against their enemies who happen also to be the allies of our enemies. They began to recognize what we see as a mortal threat to Pakistan's long-term sovereignty and authority. That was not something that was predicted two years ago that they would do. They've done it," Clinton argued.
"They've also maintained a civilian government against great odds, and something that has provided more legitimacy to our interactions with them, and we have started what has turned out to be a quite effective, robust strategic dialogue with them, engaging the whole of their government with ours," she said.
The US has also helped to broker better ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and played a major role in bringing about the signing of the Transit Trade Agreement, she said.
"So we have a long list of things that we believe are creating a better context in which we are waging this struggle against al-Qaeda and their extremist allies. But you know, those kinds of things rarely get the sort of continuing attention that we pay to them, because we see them as building blocks, not just as one-off events. And there's much more," Clinton added.