The United States has finally warned Pakistan that if a terror operation like the Times Square bombing attempt were to be successful and traced back to the country, "there would be very severe consequences".
The blunt warning came from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who acknowledged Pakistan's increased cooperation in the war on terror, but said the US wants and expects even more from Islamabad.
"We've made it very clear that if, heaven-forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences," Clinton said in an interview to CBS' "60 Minutes" programme to be broadcast Sunday.
Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen who was born in Pakistan and says he had terrorist training there, has confessed to planting the car bomb that fizzled out in Time Square last week. Investigations have also uncovered his possible links to the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group.
Pakistan's attitude toward fighting Islamic terrorists has changed remarkably, Clinton said suggesting Ialamabad was earlier playing a double game with lot of lip service but little action.
"We've gotten more cooperation and it's been a real sea change in the commitment we've seen from the Pakistan Government. [But] We want more. We expect more," she said in the interview excerpts of which were released on Friday.
Since the relationship with Pakistan turned around, the results are encouraging she said. "We also have a much better relationship, military to military, intelligence to intelligence, government to government than we had before."
"I think that there was a double game going on in the previous years, where we got a lot of lip service but very little
produced. We've got a lot produced.
"We have seen the killing or capturing of a great number of the leadership of significant terrorist groups and we're going continue that," Clinton said.
But Defence Secretary Robert Gates has offered to step up assistance to Pakistan though he doubted Islamabad's capacity to expand its crackdown on insurgents with security forces stretched battling militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
"With their military operations in the west, they've started to be pretty thinly stretched themselves, as well as taking a substantial number of casualties," he told reporters on a trip to Kansas, Missouri Friday.
But the US was "willing to do as much ... as they are willing to accept," Gates said. "We are prepared to do training, and exercise with them. How big that operation becomes is really up to them."
Citing anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, Gates said, "They (Pakistani leaders) are also very interested in keeping our footprints as small as possible, at least for now."
Meanwhile, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes also said Friday the US had been working with Pakistan and would keep assisting a Pakistani "offensive - the largest offensive they've undertaken in some years - in order to root out extremists within their borders, including the Taliban."