The Pakistani government is “abdicating to the Taliban” by allowing extremists to impose Islamic law in parts of the country, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said.
She said that many Pakistanis, especially in the countryside, “don’t believe the state has a judiciary system that works”.
Mrs Clinton said of the Pakistani government: “It’s corrupt, it doesn’t convey its power into the countryside.”
But she told a congressional hearing yesterday that the Pakistani government “shares our goals in respect to the terrorist threat”.
Mrs Clinton also said that by trying to talk Iran out of its nuclear programme, the United States is in a better position to organise tougher international sanctions should diplomacy fail.
“We actually believe that by following the diplomatic path we are on, we gain credibility and influence with a number of nations who would have to participate in order to make the sanctions regime as tight and as crippling as we would want it to be,” she told the US foreign affairs committee.
Iran denies that its nuclear programme is intended to develop weapons.
The hearing was Mrs Clinton’s first congressional testimony since her confirmation hearing in January, and the questions were mostly friendly.
Panel members initially focused mainly on Iran, an Islamic extremist threat in Pakistan and US policy toward Cuba.
Some Republicans pressed her on the administration’s release of formerly classified documents on detainee interrogation methods used during the Bush administration, but she deflected those inquiries, saying it was not a matter for her to discuss publicly.
In her opening remarks to the panel, Mrs Clinton said the core goal of President Barack Obama’s anti-terror strategy is to defeat al-Qaida and prevent its return to Afghanistan.
Committee chairman Howard Berman said the panel is worried about Islamic extremists gaining momentum in Pakistan.