WASHINGTON - With the nomination of Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate, the party Wednesday pledged to renew US “historic” relationship with Pakistan, but called India as “geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner.”

“The aftermath of the last decade’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has put enormous pressure on the political and military infrastructure of Pakistan, which faces both internal terrorism and external dangers,” said a manifesto adopted at the Republican Party's convention in Tampa, Florida, ahead of the November national election.

“The working relationship between our two countries is a necessary, though sometimes difficult, benefit to both, and we look toward the renewal of historic ties that have frayed under the weight of international conflict,” said the manifesto, known here as platform, for presidential candidate.

Political observers noted that the Republicans, who in the recent past have taken a tough line against Pakistan, have now chosen to soften their position. The manifesto looks ahead to repairing the strained ties with Pakistan, while underscoring the benefits of the relationship to both countries. The November 6 election will pitch Romney, a wealthy businessman and former Massachusetts governor, against President Barack Obama, in the tight race for the White House that is focusing on the country's deteriorating economy. Opinion polls show Romney running even with or slightly behind the Democratic president.

The Republican Party criticised the Obama administration's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. “The imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan of the 30,000 “surge” troops sent there two years ago comes weeks before this year’s presidential election and against the advice of the current President’s top military commanders.”

Future decisions by a Republican president will never subordinate military necessity to domestic politics or an artificial timetable, it said. “Afghans, Pakistanis, and Americans have a common interest in ridding the region of the Taliban and other insurgent groups, but we cannot expect others to remain resolute unless we show the same determination ourselves.”

The documents emphasized the need for overall improvement in Afghanistan and also highlighted the need for internal reforms in the war-torn country. “We will expect the Afghan government to crack down on corruption, respect free elections, and assist our fight against the narcotic trade that fuels the insurgency.” “We must likewise expect the Pakistan government to sever any connection between its security and intelligence forces and the insurgents. No Pakistani citizen should be punished for helping the United States against the terrorists,” it said in an obvious reference to Dr Shakil Afridi's cooperation with the CIA in tracking down Osama bin Laden.

Broadly setting out the foreign policy towards South Asia, the platform welcomes a stronger relationship with India but also asked New Delhi to be open to foreign investment and trade ties.

“We welcome a stronger relationship with the world’s largest democracy, India, both economic and cultural, as well as in terms of national security. We hereby affirm and declare that India is our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner. We encourage India to permit greater foreign investment and trade.”

The convention's opening was pushed back a day by a storm threat, but Republicans wasted no time in condemning Obama's economic record and reminding voters of the stubbornly high national unemployment rate and growing budget deficit.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, warned that re-electing Obama would mean “four more years of failure.” “We have a message for America: Elect Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and they'll get America working again,” he said to loud cheers. “We must send America's comeback team to Washington.”

But as Republicans tried to show a united front against Obama, it was clear on Tuesday that bitter divisions within their party have not been resolved. Supporters of liberal congressman Ron Paul of Texas and other conservative activists briefly disrupted the opening session, booing a decision to unseat Paul delegates from Maine and institute rules changes they believe will weaken their power in the next election cycle.

The rules changes, approved by the convention on a voice vote, will bind delegates to the results of a state-wide vote and reduce the role of smaller state-level conventions where Paul had success. Opponents of the move said that Romney's operatives and the party's establishment were trying to freeze them out. Some noted that in the state-by-state roll call of delegates to count votes for the presidential nomination, only Romney's vote totals were announced from the podium.

“We were disenfranchised by our party. We won't participate with this chaos,” said Russell Montgomery, 52, of St George, Maine. “We won't legitimise this fiasco. This is as bad as the other party - the corruption.”