Republican presidential hopefuls appear to be bitterly divided over Pakistan, with some openly calling for stopping the US aid to Islamabad for its "double game" in the war on terror while others advocating engagement arguing that the country possessed nuclear weapons.
Participating in a Republican presidential candidates' debate on foreign policy, Texas governor Rick Perry came out with the strongest policy against Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of not being honest with the United States.
"It (Pakistan) is clearly sending us messages that they don't deserve our foreign aid ... because they're not being honest with us. American soldiers' lives are being put at jeopardy because of that country. It is time for us as a country to say no to foreign aid to countries that don't support the United States of America," Perry thundered.
The Texas governor accused Pakistan of playing a double game with the US.
"They've been doing this for years. Their political people are not who are in charge of that country. It's the military. It's the secret service. That's who is running that country. I don't trust them. And we need to send clear messages. We need to do foreign aid completely different."
Perry was supported by Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of House of Representatives, who has surged ahead of others in the latest polls of Republican presidential candidates.
"The fact (is) that the Pakistanis, and think about this, hid (Osama) bin Laden for at least six years in a military city within a mile of their national defence university. And then they got mad at the people who turned him over to us. And we think those are the acts of allies? I think that's a pretty good idea to start at zero, and sometimes stay there," Gingrich said.
Two other Republican candidates – Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann – spoke quite different language of the need to have a policy of engagement with the nuclear-powered Pakistan.
"I would not agree with that assessment to pull all foreign aid from Pakistan. I would reduce foreign aid to many, many countries. But there's a problem. Because Pakistan has a nuclear weapon," Bachmann said.
"We have more people affiliated with al Qaeda closer to that nuclear bomb than in any other nation. This is an extremely important issue," she added.
Santorum said Pakistan must be a friend of the United States.
Pakistan is a nuclear power, he said. "There are people in that country that if they gained control of that country will create a situation equal to the situation that is now percolating in Iran."
"So we can't be indecisive about whether Pakistan is our friend. They must be our friend. We must engage them as friends, get over the difficulties we have as we did with Saudi Arabia with respect to the events of 9/11.
"The terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. And we said, 'Well, you know what'? It's important for us to maintain that relationship in spite of those difficulties," Santorum said.
"And it's important for us with a nuclear power with a very vast number of people in Pakistan who are radicalising, that we keep a solid and stable relationship, and work through our difficulties," he argued.