Karachi, May 9 : US ambassador in Islamabad Anne W. Patterson has said that the US had been extending financial help to Pakistan for several years which had resulted in improving the living standard of an average Pakistani, but she was surprised to witness the depth of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, especially in the middle class.
She said that Pakistan was the third largest recipient of American assistance in the world, and that security assistance was an important part of US' engagement with Pakistan.
Warning that extremists were gaining ground in Pakistan, she said that the increasingly prosperous middle class in the country would be the first to suffer because of extremism.
"Extremists have gained ground during the past two years. Your military and security personnel and their civilian employees have been specifically targeted by militants. America is your partner in this fight and we seek to support you on several levels," the Dawn quoted her as saying at a meeting with corporate leaders, organised by the Management Association of Pakistan.
She added: "Pakistan's long-term interests are aligned with ours and with those of other western countries. I suspect that those who oppose American engagement in Pakistan have a limited understanding of how our partnerships - economic assistance and financial interactions - changed the lives of everyday Pakistanis in real and positive ways."
"It appears that people who come up with the most fanciful conspiracy theories do so in an attempt to distract the public from the true causes of extremism and poverty," she said and added: "We also want to dispel rumours that the US only works with your military. This is not true."
Ms Patterson clarified that the US money for combating militancy did not go directly to military and was deposited in central government's account.
She said her government was also engaged in a number of other programmes to improve Pakistan's security, which included 300-million-dollar direct assistance to Pakistan's military, purchase of defence systems from the US, refurbishing and building of 150 border outposts. Besides, the US had trained more than 6000 Pakistani police and security officials over the past five years, she added.
She denied that Washington was forcing Islamabad to use force at the expense of social and economic development. "Let me assure you my government would not pursue such a foolish policy," she said and added that her country had been assisting Pakistan in developing the tribal areas for years.
She said: "We have built more than 500 km of roads and 800 small irrigation and electricity schemes in FATA. The scope and scale of our investments in Pakistan should serve as indications that the US is taking a long-term view of our relationship."