The United States will do everything it can to capture high-value targets in Pakistan, but it will not act independently of Pakistan's government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday on Face The Nation.
Pakistan used to be a main backer of the Taliban, but threw its support behind Washington following the Sept. 11 attacks. Pakistan has since deployed about 90,000 soldiers in its tribal regions to fight remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda, who are believed to be hiding there.
But a recent surge in violence and a resurgence of radical Islamic groups has threatened the government of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and the reconstruction of neighboring Afghanistan.
The surge in violence followed tribal leaders' withdrawal from a 2006 peace deal with the government, and amid widespread anger at an army raid of Islamabad's radical Red Mosque last month that left at least 102 people dead.
"We have a cooperative arrangement with Pakistan; Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror," Rice said. "The idea that somehow we have a greater interest in the capture and kill of high-value targets who are threatening Pakistan itself, as was shown by the extremist who brought about all that trouble at the Red Mosque, who are bringing about trouble in the frontier areas, I think is just not right."
Earlier in the week, Sen. Barack Obama, one of the Democrats campaigning for the White House, said that, if elected, he might order unilateral military strikes in Pakistan against al Qaeda. Rice said she did not want to respond to Obama's remarks but wanted to say what the U.S. policy was.
"Yes, Musharraf has constraints, but we believe that the future with Pakistan is to be very active in that region," Rice said. "Of course we are going to go after targets and after extremists, but so are the Pakistanis because they have a lot at risk, too."
But Rice did say that Pakistan needed to do more to secure the tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan.
"I think there's no doubt that things have changed in terms of even Pakistani perception of what needs to be done in the frontier areas, and that's why the Pakistani army has been much more active there," Rice said.
Rice, who is meeting Sunday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Camp David, said military force alone could not bring stability to either country.
"We continue to believe that it's important to have reconstruction assistance in that region to try to deal with hearts and minds of the people who right now may be too close to, or may be turning a blind eye even to terrorism," she said.