WASHINGTON - A top US diplomat Monday lauded the "very positive direction" Pakistan has taken following the establishment of an elected government, pledging Washington's comprehensive cooperation in its advancement as a moderate democratic nation. "We support a democratic Pakistan that is a source of moderation and stability in the transitioning region," Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told a major conference here. Noting that the people of Pakistan "courageously rejected extremism" in the elections and that they stand as a bulwark against the menace. "It is necessary to build a comprehensive relationship with the Pakistani people - Our partnership must be long-term, substantial and comprehensive." In a speech at the conference on "Pakistan: Advancing Democracy and Security," Negroponte said restoration of democracy "presents an opportunity to forge an enduring relationship" and that the US was in touch with the top political leadership including PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. Replying to a question, he said the US relationship had been with the Pakistani people. "In the wake of 9/11 we personalised the characterisation of Pakistan's cooperation with us by saying that Mr (Pervez) Musharraf was an indispensable ally in the war on terror. But it really is shorthand for the nation of Pakistan and it is a shorthand of saying that Pakistan is in an indispensable situation in terms of dealing with the threats we confront in the war on terror," The US, he said, considered Pakistan vital to its security and wanted its tribal areas free of terrorists. Following restoration of democracy, Negroponte stressed, Pakistan had now an "opportunity to develop a national consensus to defeat extremism," and to move forward as a modern and moderate nation. "We support a democratic Pakistan that is a source of moderation and stability in the transitioning region." The United States, he added, expected Pakistani civilian and military leaders to be strong partners in the fight against terrorism. Military cooperation with Pakistan would remain an important feature of the US-Pakistan relationship for reasons relating to war on terrorism. He underlined the need for Pakistan bringing its tribal areas under control but at the same time recognised that force alone was not the answer to problems. He vowed consistent US help in the country's pursuing a multifaceted anti-terror approach including economic development and political measures. Pakistan's ambassador-designate to the US Hussain Haqqani, senior diplomats, MNA Engr Khurram Dastgir Khan and former US diplomats attended the gathering at the National Endowment for Democracy.