General Martin Dempsey. — Reuters File photo

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: The top US military officer has voiced confidence that the United States and Pakistan can reset their bilateral relationship in a mutually beneficial way, and observed that the country is now stable, after facing multiple challenges over last many years.

“I think the best thing we've done over the past several months -- you know, the incident occurred on November 26 and here we sit on March the 16th.

I think the best thing we've done is we've not conducted our engagement with them with a microphone,” General Martin Dempsey, Chairman Joint Chiefs Staff said.

Dempsey's comments in an appearance on popular Charlie Rose Show came as Parliament in Islamabad prepared to debate the best way forward in the country's relations with the United States, which were severely strained following the November 26 Nato airstrikes on tribal border posts which killed at 24 Pakistani soldiers.

“We've communicated with them directly. We've communicated with them privately.

We're back in close contact with them along the border. We have been in conversations about our military to military relationship, about our foreign military sales, about some of the common challenges of terrorism, and they have asked to be given time in their parliamentary process to have some internal discussions about what the new relationship might be, but I'm personally optimistic that we can reset the relationship in a way that meets both of our needs,” he said.

Asked if he believed that Pakistan is now stable, in the wake of years of grappling with the militancy challenges, the chairman Joint Chief Staff responded: “I do believe Pakistan is stable today.”

At the same time, he felt that “there are some trend lines that would be concerning for both them and us in terms of migration of various terrorist groups.”

Dempsey added the economic conditions in Pakistan also concern him in view of requirements for the large population of the country.

Discussing the Pakistani counterterrorism efforts along the Afghan border, the general said the Pakistanis will do the best they can to curb terrorist groups.

The Pakistanis may have the will to do something, but not the means. “I believe they will do the best they can, but it may not be enough for us,” he said, explaining difficulty of the challenge in enforcing security along the 2600-km long border.

All this makes it extraordinarily difficult for Pakistan to deliver. Dempsey said he is not a Pakistan apologist and added Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and he were classmates in a US military in Leavenworth and have had candid and frank discussions on countering terrorist challenges their two countries face.

General Dempsey said he believes Gen Kayani, will do everything he can against these terror groups, operating along the border.