The United States has a set of expectations it wants the government in Pakistan to meet, including in combating terrorism, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.
She acknowledged that Pakistan has not always done all that the U.S. wanted to go after militants hiding on its soil. Pakistan has waged a two-year campaign against militants targeting the weak U.S.-backed government but has done little to expunge safe havens for militants who attack U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The U.S. will keep pressing that point and trying to strengthen a relationship with nuclear-armed Pakistan, Clinton said, because it's in the long-term security interest of the U.S. to do so. The secretary is in Paris to join in celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe, an economics standards body.
"There have been times when we wanted to push harder, and for various reasons they have not," Clinton said. "Those differences are real. They will continue." She added strong praise for Pakistani cooperation since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that the country had allowed the killing of "more terrorists than anyplace else in the world."
Pakistan's prime minister said Thursday that his country will use "all appropriate means" to attack militant hideouts inside the country, amid rising criticism of the nation's security forces in the wake of a deadly 16-hour assault on a naval base last weekend.
Yousuf Raza Gilani gave no indication the army was considering new offensives along the Afghan border, where most of the militants in Pakistan are based along with other groups and affiliates who are the greatest danger to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The United States wants to see action in the North Waziristan region especially, where a deadly Afghan Taliban faction is based, to help it put pressure on Afghan insurgents and enable it to begin withdrawing troops later this summer after 10 years of war.
"We do have a set of expectations that we are looking for the Pakistani government to meet," Clinton said, but "it is not as though they have been on the sidelines."
Clinton did not mention Osama bin Laden, the Sept. 11 mastermind killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan on May 2 that has enraged Pakistanis and undermined the credibility of the country's military.
And she did not answer a question about whether she is disappointed in the reaction of the Pakistani government, which has included a demand that some U.S. military counterterror trainers leave the country. Pakistani leaders have also done little to tamp down anti-American fervor following the bin Laden raid, and at times have appeared to whip it up.
"We will be working through these near-term challenges, but we will also keep our eye on what is in our strategic interest. That is our first and highest responsibility," Clinton said.
Washington has been quietly helping train Pakistan security forces in the northwest, but that cooperation has faltered after the bin Laden raid.