WASHINGTON - With Pakistan in political crisis, the United States has stepped up its pressure on Islamabad with a stern call to “do more” to get rid of the so-called safe havens inside the country from where militants stage attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

Speaking on American television, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. has made it clear to Pakistan that “days are over” for hedging its bets on militant groups like Haqqani network, the Afghan Taliban or the LeT against India.

Similarly, she renewed call to Pakistan for the immediate release of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA trace Osama bin Laden. “They should release Dr Afridi,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on the popular Charlie Rose Show in a joint appearance with former Secretary of States James Baker on Wednesday night.

“This is something that is so unnecessary and gratuitous on their part”, she said. “....My argument to them is that this man contributed to ending the al Qaeda leadership that was in their country, and they shouldn’t treat him like a criminal.”

Clinton also said there was no evidence that someone in upper levels of the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts.  “We have no evidence.”  “Everybody knows that the Taliban’s momentum has been reversed, territory has been taken back, the Afghan Security Forces are performing much better, but the extremists have an ace in the hole. They just cross the border; they get direction and funding and fighters, and they go back across the border,” the top US diplomat said in a joint interview with the former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican,  on Charlie Rose show.

“What we’ve said to the Pakistanis is look, if there were ever an argument in the past for your policy of hedging against Afghanistan by supporting the Haqqani Network or the Afghan Taliban or the LET against India, those days are over. Because that’s like the guy who keeps poisonous snakes in his backyard convinced they’ll only attack his neighbours. That is not what is happening inside Pakistan. They are losing sovereignty. They have large areas that are ungoverned. They’ve had a rash of terrible attacks. More than 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed in the last decade.”

“They (Pakistanis) talk a lot about sovereignty. Well, the first job of any sovereign nation is to protect your own people and secure your own borders. Therefore that’s what they should be doing, and by doing so they would help themselves first and foremost, help the Afghans, help us, and others,” Clinton said.

US renews call for Dr Afridi’s release