WASHINGTON - With the Taliban tightening their grip on parts of Pakistan, the United States has said Tuesday it wants to pursue broader military ties with the South Asian country to help it counter the threat from militant groups. Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy, who co-chaired the Afghanistan-Pakistan Interagency Policy Review along with Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and Bruce Riedel, said Washington wants to provide the Pakistan army with training and advice on counterinsurgency tactics developed in Iraq and Afghanistan and support ongoing operations with intelligence and other assistance. We need to substantially increase our military assistance and broaden the form, she said at a forum hosted by the Washington based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIC). If we could get beyond a transactional sort of equipping, support and reimbursement relationship to a strategic relationship where we are also training, advising, working together on the ground ... we would be much more effective and get a lot farther down the road of achieving our common objectives. Flournoys comments come as the Obama administration moves to implement a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan stressing military action against insurgents combined with economic and social development initiatives in areas where militants hold sway. The new US plan effectively seeks a new strategic partnership between Washington and Islamabad, she said, We need a fundamental shift in this relationship for things to work. US officials want Pakistan to step up military operations to eradicate safe havens for militant groups like Al-Qaeda that serve as bases for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Afghan and US officials have recently expressed concern over a decision by Pakistan to accept Taliban demands and impose Islamic law in the Swat valley, where militants have gained ground. Ultimately, these groups will take advantage (of the Swat deal), Flournoy remarked, adding, they are not reconcilable for the most part. I think they need to be dealt with in a consistent and concerted way, she added. She said the Pakistani armys focus on India, as the major threat despite the obvious internal existential threat from terrorism was a tangible manifestation of the very deep and historic mistrust between Pakistan and India. Flournoy argued that as a result, the only way that you are going to give the Pakistani government and armed forces the confidence to shift their focus, is to address some of these areas of tension to try to reduce tensions between the countries, to develop confidence building measures, to allow the sort of breathing-space that would allow the Pakistani side to turn their attention to some of the internal challenges they face. She acknowledged to a question from former US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain that the Pakistani army was in denial over the internal terrorist threat and still seemed obsessed with the perceived external threat from India. Flournoy agreed that it was imperative to work with the Pakistani army to shift their calculus, but argued that in recent times actually when you talk to a number of people, I think that a step process is happening, especially as the (terrorist) attacks have come further and further into Pakistan, out of the border areas and into the heart of Pakistani society. Flournoy said, I think there is a real growing recognition of the internal threat that some of these extremist groups pose to Pakistani society and Pakistans stability. I also think part of the equation is trying to help lower their concerns about other potential threats in the region and hence the regional approach (and integral pillar in President Obamas AfPak strategy) that weve got to lower tensions in other areas so that there is greater confidence, among Pakistans Army [images] and to get it off its denial mode and obsession with India, and to get its attention to the threat from within, she added. Flournoy said they work was in progress, noting, there are many cases of very close cooperation in combating these (terrorist) groups together and there are areas where we need further improvement. She emphasised the need for a strategic level of partnership with Pakistan, and a more consistent and significant level of assistance not just money, but in terms of training and advising and working in and across the border. When she was asked about the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)s involvement in Afghanistan, and its collusion with the Taliban and the Al Qaeda [Images], and also considering that the Central Investigative Agency (CIA) itself has acknowledged that some ISI elements were involved in the terrorist bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul nearly two years ago, Flournoy ignored the question. Earlier, in her speech too, she spoke of the dire need to work to ease tensions between Pakistan and its neighbours and was clearly referring to India, although she did not mentioned by name, however, she did so in the question and answer session that followed. In her remarks, Flournoy said as the events in Afghanistan and Pakistan were inter-related, both countries were products of their broader regional engagement, and events in either country could profoundly affect the security and stability of the entire region. She accepted that in the past, USs strategy had not fully taken important regional dimensions into account, but stressed, Going forward, we need to change that we need to make regional central and not peripheral to our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that will require constant regional diplomacy. Flournoy said it was the reason why President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Richard Holbrooke as Special Representative for the region and predicted that, You will see him constantly shuttling, not only between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but to every regional stakeholder and beyond, in trying to affect the positions on the ground to create the basis for success.