US pledges commitment to working out tensions with Pakistan
WASHINGTON — The United States said 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,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
“We desire a closer, more productive relationship with Pakistan both militarily and as well as politically. And we’re constantly working to build that closer cooperation,” he said.
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have severely deteriorated this year. On November 26, US air strikes 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 any fire and rejected the probe. It has pressed President Barack Obama for an apology.
Tensions have also been rising within Pakistan, with 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.”
But he added: “This is a matter for the Pakistani people to resolve within their own political process.”
Pakistan’s army chief, 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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