“We will be delivering a very clear message to the government of Pakistan and to the people of Pakistan,” Clinton told reporters during a stop in Afghanistan on her way to the Pakistani capital. “There should be no support, and no safe havens anywhere, for terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children.”
The talks with Pakistani officials lasted four hours Thursday before they adjourned for the night. A senior State Department official described the talks as “extremely frank” and “very detailed.”
On Friday, Clinton met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
“Pakistan has a critical role to play in supporting Afghan reconciliation and ending the conflict,” Clinton said at a joint press conference with Khar. “We look to Pakistan to take strong steps to deny Afghan insurgents safe havens and to encourage the Taliban to enter negotiations in good faith.”
U.S. officials have accused Pakistan of tolerating — and, in some cases, supporting — Haqqani clan members in a string of attacks against U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan denies.
“We should be able to agree that for too long extremists have been able to operate here in Pakistan and from Pakistani soil,” Clinton said Friday.
While insisting that there is a shared responsibility for fighting terrorism, Clinton hinted of consequences for Pakistan if the government does not do more to stop attacks emanating from the Pakistani side of the border.
“No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price,” Clinton said. She said Pakistan’s leaders “must be part of the solution, which means ridding their own country of terrorists who kill their own people and cross the border to kill people in Afghanistan.”
Clinton spoke of a growing international effort to squeeze the Haqqani network on both sides of the border, adding that the effort “will be more apparent in the days ahead.”
“It is a fact that they are operating out of safe havens in Pakistan,” Clinton said. “It took a while before we could turn to those safe havens. Now it is a question of how much more cooperation Pakistan can provide in going after those safe havens.”
Relations between Afghan and Pakistani officials have been badly strained after a series of high-profile attacks and assassinations, including the killing on Sept. 20 of Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president and the point man for reconciliation talks between the Afghan government and the radical Islamist Taliban movement. After Rabbani’s death, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said peace efforts were useless unless Pakistan was heavily involved.