The most senior American official to visit Pakistan since a US strike team killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden this month says tense relations between the two countries have reached a turning point.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Islamabad needs to take decisive steps against Islamist militancy. After talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, she moved to smooth strains.
Clinton said: “There is absolutely no evidence that anyone at highest level of the Pakistani government knew that Osama bin Laden was living just miles from where we are today. And we know that al Qaeda has been a source of great pain and suffering.”
The discovery of bin Laden in a garrison town just 50 km away from the capital on May 2 raised fresh doubts about Pakistan’s reliability as a partner in the US-led war on militancy.
Clinton’s secretly planned visit came as US lawmakers questioned whether Pakistan should be receiving billions in aid amid scant evidence of Islamist militancy abating.