ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Obama administration delivered a blunt warning Thursday that the United States will do what it must to go after militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan, whether Pakistan helps or not.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton led an unusually large U.S. delegation for two days of talks with civilian and military leaders who have resisted previous U.S. demands to take a harder tack against militants who attack American soldiers and interests in Afghanistan.
The large U.S. contingent was meant to display unity among the various U.S. agencies, including the CIA, Pentagon and State Department. Clinton arrived in Islamabad from Afghanistan, where she told Pakistan that it must be part of the solution to the Afghan conflict. She said the United States expects the Pakistani government, military and intelligence services to take the lead in fighting Pakistan-based militants and in encouraging Afghan militants to reconcile.
"Our message is very clear," Clinton said. "We're going to be fighting, we are going to be talking and we are going to be building … and they can either be helping or hindering, but we are not going to stop."
The meetings were expected to focus on the recurrent U.S. demand that Pakistan launch its own offensive against a lethal Taliban affiliate known as the Haqqani network. It operates on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; U.S. officials claim Pakistan either tolerates or supports the group's activities.
U.S. military leaders have told the Pakistanis that if Islamabad does not act against the Haqqanis, the U.S. will. The U.S. is reportedly set to announce that the Haqqani network will be placed on a list of terrorist groups subject to U.S. punishment.