Washington, Mar 17 : US policy makers hope that the new political set-up in Pakistan will be a strong ally in the global 'war against terror'.
In background briefings, US officials have stressed that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf no longer enjoys a pivotal role.
Instead, the focus is on the fight in the tribal areas, particularly Waziristan where Americans believe that Al Qaeda and the Taliban have established a safe haven and are supervising terrorist operations in Pakistan and abroad from there.
US intelligence officials also have noted that the militants have recently set up a hospital in North Waziristan called Zaqeem, where people injured in fighting with US and Pakistani troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan are being treated.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "I feel strongly that we're in a better place about this than when they tried to make a deal essentially, some time ago, which I believe did not work and I also believe the Pakistanis now understand that they have to take a different tack there."
According to the Dawn, there is a strong realisation here that within Pakistan, the US needs to build up its relationship with political forces.
Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte says, "Successful American engagement with a stable and democratic Pakistan is vital to our national security interests."
"Pakistan has been indispensable to our worldwide struggle against radical terrorist groups. Without peace and stability on the Pakistani side of the border, success in Afghanistan will prove illusive," said Negroponte.
Some policy makers here wish to see Musharraf continue, even if only as a titular head, because they feel that the presence of a General, even if retired, in the government is useful for the war against terrorists.