The US secretary of state has said Pakistan was not cooperating as it should regarding issues of terrorism and stressed that all perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack should be brought to justice.
The setting of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's rant against Pakistan was at the La Martiniere School for girls in Kolkata where she stoutly maintained that necessary action had not been taken against Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, who is suspected of masterminding the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008.
No action against Hafiz Saeed
"We are well aware that no steps have been taken by the Pakistani government to do what both India and the US have repeatedly requested them they do," said Clinton, who is on a three-day visit to India.
"And we are going to keep pushing that point. So it's a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that," she added, mincing no words.
Just last month the US put a bounty on his head of 10 million US dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed. A 2-million-dollars reward was placed on Hafiz Adbul Rahman Makki's head.
The sticky issue has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors since the massacre in India's financial capital, where 10 gunmen killed 166 people.
Even during his whistle-stop visit to the Indian capital last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had raised the issue with Pakistani President Ali Asif Zardari.
Why use India for censuring Pakistan?
Strategic analysts and terror experts believe there was a bigger message behind Clinton's strong words against Pakistan and why she chose to make it from India.
"There has been increasing frustration against Pakistan's attitude in combating terror. This has led to a hardening of position," terrorism expert Ajay Sahni told DW, adding it was "also indicative that the US is losing its patience. The other point is that it wants to tell leaders in India that it is a dependable ally."
Efforts have been on to help shore up US-Pakistan relations that have continued to deteriorate since last year.
From the US special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May last year, to the hundreds of US drone strikes, including the recent NATO attack on a check post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, positions on both sides have continued to harden.
"These difference will have to be ironed out soon as otherwise the entire region can turn volatile and dangerous," strategic analyst Manish Jain told DW.
Getting India onboard
Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of international relations in Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi said Clinton was "playing to the Indian audience. Yes, it has been tough and complicated to rebuild relations with Pakistan that has taken a dip but would she have said all this in Islamabad?" Kondapalli told DW.
The November NATO attack hardened Pakistan's US policies
"There is also a bigger, underlying significance in her utterances. The US wants India to play a bigger role not just in the subcontinent but the entire Asian region, including the South China Sea.”
Al Qaeda head in Pakistan
During her visit Clinton dropped another bombshell saying Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over as al Qaeda chief after the killing of bin Laden, was in Pakistan and vowed to keep up pressure on militant groups in the country.
"We want to disable al Qaeda and we have made a lot of progress in doing that," she said
Hours after Clinton's statement, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar addressed the Pakistani Parliamentary Committee on National Security in Islamabad and said, "We have no information about the presence of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan."
Clinton, who arrived in the Indian capital later in the afternoon for her official engagements with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said countries like India were being pressurized to reduce their oil imports from Iran to make Tehran change its nuclear policy.
Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Sarah Berning