A high-level American delegation traveled to Pakistan on Thursday to deliver the message that there would be consequences for supporting terrorist groups, The New York Times reported.
A senior administration official told The Times that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, CIA Director David Petraeus, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey plan "to push their Pakistani counterparts to make a definitive choice between fighting terrorists and supporting them."
Insurgent groups based in Pakistan, like the Haqqani network, threaten the stability of Afghanistan, The Times noted. The Pakistani Intelligence Services have been linked to various terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden managed to hide in Pakistan for years before Navy SEALs attacked his compound in May.
The U.S. delegation met with senior Pakistani officials in Islamabad for four hours on Thursday night, with plans to continue talks on Friday, The Times reported.
"Now we have to turn our attention here on the Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban, Haqqani, and other terrorist groups and try to get them into a peace process," Clinton said on Friday at an Islamabad press conference alongside Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Reuters reported.
Of the high-level discussions, Clinton said, "we had a very in-depth conversation with specifics. And we are looking forward to taking that conversation and operationalizing it over the next days and weeks.”
Clinton had traveled to Afghanistan and met with President Hamid Karzai on Thursday before traveling to Pakistan's capital.
"We will be delivering a very clear message to the government of Pakistan and to the people of Pakistan because they, too, have suffered,” Clinton said on Thursday at a press conference in Kabul, The Times reported. “They have suffered at the hand of the same kind of terrorists. So there should be no support and no safe haven anywhere for people who kill innocent men, women, and children.”
“No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price,” Clinton said.
As the U.S. reduces its military presence in Afghanistan, Pakistani cooperation will be crucial to Afghanistan's stability moving forward-- and to reconciliation efforts between Afghanistan's new government and elements of the Taliban.
At the Kabul press conference, Karzai said, “We believe that the Taliban to a very, very great extent — to a very, very great extent — are controlled by establishments in Pakistan, stay in Pakistan, have their headquarters in Pakistan, launch attacks from Pakistan."
Clinton said at an Islamabad town hall meeting on Friday that Pakistani pressure can help the Afghan peace process. "We think that Pakistan for a variety of reasons has the capacity to encourage, to push, to squeeze... terrorists, including the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban, to be willing to engage in the peace process," Reuters quoted Clinton as saying.
Clinton warned that sheltering terrorists was not in Pakistan's best interests. "You can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors," she said.