KANSAS CITY, Missouri, (Reuters) - The United States is prepared to provide more assistance to Pakistan, if it wants it, in the wake of last weeks attempted car bombing in New York, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday. But Gates appeared to play down the chances of an expanded crackdown by Pakistan because of the strain its security forces are already under battling militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Were willing to do as much with the Pakistanis and for the Pakistanis as they are willing to accept, Gates said. Its their country. They remain in the driver seat. Theyve got their foot on the accelerator. Investigations into the Pakistani-American suspect in the bomb attempt in New Yorks Times Square on Saturday have uncovered possible links to the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group. That has prompted speculation that the United States, Pakistans top provider of aid, could press Islamabad to open risky new fronts against militants. But Gates, far from publicly calling on Pakistan to do more, renewed praise of Islamabads efforts against insurgents and acknowledged that Pakistans armed forces were already stretched. The Pakistanis have been doing so much more than any of us would have expected 18 months or two years ago, Gates said. You also have to realise that, with their military operations in the West, theyve started to be pretty thinly stretched themselves, as well as taking a substantial number of casualties. The CIA is also waging a covert war using pilotless drone aircraft to target insurgents in Pakistan. I think cooperation has continued to (improve), the relationship is continuing to improve, and I think we just keep moving in that direction, Gates said. Agencies add: US Defence Chief Gates praised Pakistan Armys commitment to fighting extremists inside its borders, reports The Washington Post. The US remains willing to offer as much help as the Pakistani govt will accept, an American news agency quoted Gates as saying. Gates was to appear at the Armys Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., later Friday. Meanwhile, Gen David Petraeus said the Times Square bombing suspect is a lone wolf terrorist who did not work with others. The general who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan told an American news agency that alleged bomber Faisal Shahzad was inspired by militants in Pakistan, but didnt have direct contact with them. Authorities say Shahzad told investigators he went to a training camp in Pakistan, but they have yet to confirm that.