WASHINGTON - Pakistan today has the best government in a long time, a noted U.S. expert on South Asia has said, voicing confidence in the country's ability to deal with its myriad problems with international support. In a speech at a meeting organized by a think-tank, Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution called the emergence of a democratic order in Pakistan an "amazing accomplishment". "This is the best government (to have emerged) in Pakistan in a long time. The problems they face are enormous (no doubt), but I cannot demand a better group of people running the government," he said speaking on the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party's Counterterrorism Strategy. HAQQANI Also speaking at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies on the Pakistan People's Party's counterterrorism strategy, was Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani. Haqqani said President Asif Ali Zardari was implementing Benazir Bhutto's vision of a democratic, progressive and vibrant Pakistan, a vision in whose defence she laid down her life. He said a qualitative change has occurred in Pakistan since the people of Pakistan decided to "own" the war against terrorism. He said Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated because the terrorists did not share her vision of what Pakistan should be. The Feb. 18 elections had transformed Pakistan. What the PPP government is now engaged in doing is critical to the future of the country as it will determine the direction it will take. Haqqani said after 9/11 Pervez Musharraf gave up the Taliban but he never brought the people of Pakistan on board in the war against terrorism that he had had his country join. That was the reason, the people felt swayed by the jihadi argument that it was not Pakistan's but America's war and Pakistan was acting as "America's lackey." Gen. Musharraf was focused on al Qaeda but he looked  the other way when it came to the Taliban and their supporters in Pakistan. There always remained an ambiguity in his attitude on the issue. Since the arrival of the PPP government, Haqqani said, there has been a major strategic shift on this and other issues. He said the resolution unanimously passed by Pakistan's parliament on terrorism and other issues is historic as it has brought all parties of the left and right on board. It is now accepted that terrorism is a threat to the way of life of the people of Pakistan. Another great change that has occurred, Haqqani stressed, is that the elected civilian government and the Pakistan military are on the same page today. The formation of tribal lashkars, which are citizens' militias to fight the terrorists, is another important and game-changing development. The people living in the tribal regions have come to realise that al Qaeda and the Taliban stand in their way, blocking them from taking the road to progress and modernity. US BLAMED In his speech, Cohen, the American expert, blamed the US for having helped keep dictatorships in place in Pakistan. He called the support extended by Washington to Gen. Pervez Musharraf "wrong". Musharraf, he added, put up a great show whenever he came to Washington of being effective and well meaning, but he was "not fit for the job."  His long stay in office owed much to his backing by the United States. Things reached a point where Pakistan began to be seen in Washington through Musharraf's eyes. But Musharraf neither had the temperament nor the ability to be a good leader. It was the Untied States that prolonged Paksitan's agony. Cohen credited the present leadership in Pakistan with having managed the transition well and having put Musharraf "gracefully aside." President Asif Zardari, Cohen added, had managed to consolidate his hold on the party. Pakistan, he said, needs a new military strategy and it has to train its army in how to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations. Help from the US is needed, he emphasised, in bringing that about. Cohen said we should hold back judgment on the performance of the present government for a year but we should be prepared for failure, because as one former secretary of state, George Schultz, said "hope is not a policy." Cohen referred to his book "The Idea of Pakistan" and in a rejection of negative scenarious painted by some experts, stressed that Pakistan has not failed comprehensively, although it has had setbacks in certain areas.  "I hope that things will be better --- lets hope things turn out better," said Cohen, who is member of a bipartisan group of leading experts that recently crafted guidelines for the new American president's policy toward Pakistan, following November 4 U.S. presidential elections. Shuja Nawaz, author of a recent book on the Pakistan army, which Stephen Cohen, author of an earlier book on the Pakistan army, called "the best" on the subject, told the audience that Pakistan is relearning democracy, something it has to do every few years because of military interventions. However, it is too early to claim success, especially because of the fearful economic situation the country finds itself in. He said the PPP government wasted precious time after taking over by not paying attention to the economy, mired as it was in political and other controversies. He said while the army today is working in tandem with the civilian government, history shows that when civilian governments fail, the army steps in. He said the army is arrayed against terrorist and extremist forces, having realised that in 2007, 36 of the 56 bombings were directed at military targets, soft ones for the most part. While commending the elected parliament for its resolution declaring that Pakistani territory will not be used for attacks against any neighbouring state, he called it a "baby step". He said what was missing after the joint session was a joint press conference which would have proved that everyone was on board. He added that there still appear to be reservations among right-wing religious parties regarding the war against extremism. There is still a lot of "hedging" on their part on the issue. Pakistan needs a civil-military balance, he stressed. He hoped that the Durand Line will become a line of peace which will enable all countries of the region, including India, to enjoy the fruits of economic prosperity.