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Pakistan's policy on extremists poses serious threat: Clinton

world Updated: Apr 22, 2009 23:54 IST

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Wednesday that Pakistan's policy of ceding territory to Islamic extremists poses a serious threat that cannot be overlooked.

During testimony before the foreign policy committee in the House of Representatives, Clinton called on Pakistanis "to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents, to the Taliban, to Al-Qaeda, to the allies that are in this terrorist syndicate".

Taliban militants in Pakistan's Swat valley have continued to extend their authority since last week's agreement with the government allowing the militants to impose strict Islamic codes on the population in the northwest region.

The US has criticised the deal cut with the Taliban, citing similar arrangements that have failed in the past, emboldened the militants and their Islamist agenda and risked further the destabilisation of the Pakistani government.

"I don't hear that kind of outrage or concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan," Clinton said.

"We cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances now within hours of Islamabad that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists," Clinton said.

She added that their goal is to overthrow the Pakistani government and take control of the nuclear-armed state.