WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said that the United States cannot abandon Pakistan but that the South Asian nation must help solve Afghanistan's difficulties or it will "continue to be part of the problem."
Her comments were the latest in a series by US officials exposing the difficulty of the relationship with Pakistan, particularly after Washington publicly accused its powerful Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting a militant attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13.
The head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has denied the US accusations.
The United States and Pakistan have bickered publicly since the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told Congress last month that he regarded the militant Haqqani network as a "veritable arm" of the ISI.
Answering questions after a speech sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, Clinton said the United States had no choice but to work with Pakistan in trying to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan.
"This is a very difficult relationship but I believe strongly it is not one we can walk away from and expect that anything will turn out better," she said.
"Pakistan has to be part of the solution or they will continue to be part of the problem," she added. "And therefore, as frustrating as it is, we just keep every day going at it and I think we make very slow, sometimes barely discernible progress, but we're moving in the right direction."
Despite mounting exasperation in official Washington, dramatic change in US policy looks unlikely in the short term toward Pakistan, an unstable, unpredictable nation that has nuclear weapons and controls a key supply route needed to keep US troops fed and fighting in Afghanistan.
Tides turned stranger when Clinton on Tuesday hinted that the US would not be averse to exploring peace talks with the Haqqani network.
(Read: US 'not shutting door' on Haqqani in talks: Clinton)
“Where we are right now is that we view the Haqqanis and other of their ilk as, you know, being adversaries and being very dangerous to Americans, Afghans and coalition members inside Afghanistan, but we are not shutting the door on trying to determine whether there is some path forward,” Clinton said when asked whether she believed members of the Haqqani network might reconcile with the Afghan government.
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