US struggling to maintain ties with Pakistan

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Washington, June 26 : The U.S. is struggling to establish a good relationship with Pakistan's democratically elected government, according to officials in Islamabad and Washington.

Relations have also recently become tense between the Pentagon and the Pakistani military.

Pakistani officials accuse the US of having used the country as a means to an end for decades, without valuing the bilateral relationship in itself, while Washington is worried about the government's stance on Islamist extremism.

In particular, Washington has sounded alarms about Pakistani peace negotiations with Baitullah Mehsud, a tribal militant leader whose forces are allegedly responsible for killing Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, and numerous attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asked to characterise the two countries' relationship, a senior US administration official last week repeatedly declined to describe it as a good one. "It is an important relationship that we want to nurture, which both sides want to work on," he said.

Lisa Curtis, a Pakistan expert at the Heritage Foundation, says the Pentagon is becoming less patient with Pakistan than the state department and national security council.

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