NEW YORK - Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has ascribed the confusion prevailing in Pakistan to the years of suppression under dictatorships, saying country's institutions are trying to find their "rightful place".

"What looks like an extremely chaotic situation to the foreigners is actually institutions, which have been stemmed for many years by dictatorial regimes in Pakistan ... finding their rightful place," Khar told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Wednesday.

Responding to a question about the Supreme Courtorder to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf amid anti-government rally led by Dr Tahirul Qadri, she said, "As each of these institutions, whether it's parliament, or the judiciary, or the others, find their rightful place, there's a tendency to try and enlarge their space."

But when asked whether she thought the Supreme Court had overreached, Khar said: "We have our views on it, but I am not going to share right now." The foreign minister criticised the US plan to step up the transfer of military command in Afghanistan to Afghan forces, declaring that the border with Pakistan had become “less well managed”.

She also said: “The United States is leaving Afghanistan without determining whether you have accomplished your objectives."

Khar said she would not offer her own timetable for an American departure. But she argued that the United States was being driven more by its determination to leave Afghanistan quickly than by a set of minimal objectives.

David Sanger, a senior correspondent of New York Times who moderated the discussion, asked Khar if a continued American presence post-2014 would “hurt or help Afghanistan”. Khar said she wouldn't give a judgment call on how many troops should be left, if any, but stressed that in long-term, "there should be no foreign military presence in Afghanistan. It would not be good for the stability of the region."

However, Khar said, a responsible transition would mean that the Americans would leave at a time when at least some of the entry-goals have been achieved. “Such a transition could take 14 years, one year, or six months. I do not want to leave behind conditions which are worse than the ones they inherited.

"As the international community's transition from Afghanistan takes place, we are of course very concerned, and we request only one thing: a responsible transition," Khar said. "A responsible transition entails a stable Afghanistan, an Afghanistan which will not be a breeding ground for terrorists, where women will have their rights, and will be a source of stability to the region.

"Let me share with you three barometers which are not very confidence-inspiring for us:

"1. In 2007, the 5 million-plus Afghani refugees that we have housed for the last three decades in Pakistan had started to trickle back. Since 2009, we have a fresh crop of refugees coming into Pakistan … related to that, property prices in Peshawar have risen by almost 300 percent in the last year.

"2. One major objective of foreign presence in Afghanistan was to reduce the ideological space that exists for extremist mindset. I think if you look at the last 10 years, the ideological space for extremists has only increased. In Pakistan, before 2001, there was only one suicide bomb attack inside Pakistan. Only in the last two or three years there have been more than 300 suicide bomb attacks, which have caused 30,000 civilian deaths.

"3. The number of people crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan … has increased exponentially in the last six months, which means the borders are becoming less well-managed."

The foreign minister faced some questions about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and the impact of the US raid in which the al-Qaeda leader was killed. "Osama bin Laden inflamed emotion on the US side, and it was equally so for the Pakistanis," she said. "Pakistani parliamentarians and US congressmen were equally upset, could neither believe it nor understand it.

"Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan was as much a disaster for us as it was for anyone else," the minister said. "There were intelligence failures." Khar said the US and Pakistan had a common enemy, and "going into a blame game" would not help anyone. On Dr Shakeel Afridi, who helped CIA in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, the foreign minister said Afridi "is no hero."

"He did not know what he was doing," Khar said. "He is just a man with a long history of being up for hire both by terrorist organisations, and by any other intelligence organisation who so desires. He did not know who he was working for or what he was doing." The foreign minister went on to say that Afridi had left millions of Pakistani people and children at risk for polio because of his actions. "To me, he's a villain," she said.

Reuters adds: The arrest order for Ashraf along with a mass protest in the capital, led by Tahirul Qadri, has fueled fears among some politicians that the military was working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader.

However, the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has a majority in parliament and lawmakers can elect another prime minister if Ashraf is ousted.

The foreign minister downplayed the influence of Qadri, who played a role in backing a military coup in 1999. The fiery orator returned from Canada less than a month ago to lead a call for electoral reforms to bar corrupt politicians from office, which made him an instant hit among disillusioned Pakistanis.

Qadri is camped out near the federal parliament with thousands of supporters and has demanded the government resign.

The interior minister on Wednesday warned Qadri and his supporters to disperse, saying they were at risk of attack by militants.

"Everybody or anybody who has any credibility has distanced themselves from him by miles," Khar said. "He is a man who currently is becoming a pariah in some ways."

"These large hordes of numbers that we talk about that he has been able to gather are clearly not representative of the 180 million people," she said. "The demands that he is making are all ones which want to derail the democratic process."