State Department Spokesman Mark Toner. - File Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States believes the Pakistani government is capable of working with it on shared challenges, with the State Department expressing support for a strong democracy in the key South Asian country.

“Much of our work in Pakistan is geared towards building the kind of institutions that will strengthen Pakistani democracy,” State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said in answer to a question at the daily briefing.

“Clearly, we want to see a strong democracy emerge in Pakistan that works side by side with the military and that is to the benefit of Pakistani people moving forward,” he added.

Asked if the US had confidence in the current Pakistani government's ability and intent to work with the United Stated on shared challenges, the spokesman replied: “We do believe they're capable of it, and certainly for our part, we're willing to work with them to address those shared challenges.”

Questioned about the outcome of US Special Representative Marc Grossman's recent visit to Islamabad, the spokesman said he has not received readout from Grossman's trip but reaffirmed Washington's desire to work constructively with Pakistan on dealing with shared challenges.

I would just say that, as he (Grossman) has said multiple times, that we're working together with Pakistan. We want to find ways that we can act jointly on our shared challenges. We continue to pursue those interests.

We're obviously as we've said many times; Pakistan is under enormous threat from extremist groups. We want to find ways to work constructively with them to address these challenges.

The spokesman's comments came as the two countries struggled to overcome challenges in bilateral ties, arising from a spate of events related to fight against terrorism including retired US Admiral Mike Mullen's controversial characterization of Pakistan's contacts with the Afghan militant Haqqani group.

Islamabad has strongly rejected Mullen's assertions.

Experts say despite differences, a cooperative US-Pakistan relationship remains critical to a successful outcome of the decade-old Afghan conflict.

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