Clinton's Tough Talk in Pakistan Drives Home Message: It's Not a One-Way Street

Thursday: Students protest against Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to Lahore, Pakistan. (AP Photo)

Thursday: Students protest against Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to Lahore, Pakistan. (AP Photo)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took off the gloves and delivered a no-holds-barred message to Pakistan this week, telling the American ally that it must step up its efforts to apprehend Al Qaeda terrorists and demonstrate a real commitment to democracy.

The secretary's blunt remarks, foreign policy experts say, give Pakistan's leaders a much-needed dose of reality: their relationship with the United States is not a one-way street.

America's top diplomat struck an unusually frank tone when she said Pakistan has squandered opportunities to kill or capture Al Qaeda leaders -- including Usama Bin Laden.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," she told a group of Pakistani journalists in Lahore as she wrapped up her three-day visit to Pakistan. "Maybe that's the case. Maybe they're not gettable. I don't know."

During her trip, Clinton reaffirmed America's pledge to provide $7.5 billion in non-military aid to the troubled nation over the next five years. But she made clear that it will not be a handout.

Clinton said the U.S. wants to partner with Pakistan on more than just the military front, but she made clear that the government in Islamabad will have to be America's partner in tracking down and capturing the terrorists who masterminded the September 11 attacks, among so many others throughout the world.

Clinton defended the bluntness of her remarks in an interview Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America, saying, "Trust is a two-way street. There is trust deficit."

"It will not be sufficient to achieve the level of security that Pakistanis deserve if we don't go after those who are still threatening not only Pakistan, but Afghanistan, and the rest of the world." 

Foreign policy analysts said Clinton's words were necessary to convey a tough and clear message, but that the impact on the Pakistanis remains to be seen.

"This is going to bring some realism to the relationship," said Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, adding that Clinton's comments are a "useful corrective to the Pakistan overdependency that's at risk of developing."

Tellis said he believes Pakistan knows the whereabouts of Afghan Taliban leaders, and he said the country likely has intelligence on where some Al Qaeda members are hiding.

"They're not pursuing them aggressively enough because they fear that if they apprehend them quickly, they will not remain a target of American interest and partnership," he said.

Clinton's transparent message -- said at the highest level of government -- made clear that the U.S. will accept nothing less than a two-way dialogue, Tellis said.

But others, like Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, a senior fellow at the International Security Program in Washington, say Clinton went too far in suggesting Pakistan is deliberately dodging attempts to locate Al Qaeda.

"To say categorically that Pakistan knows where Al Qaeda leaders are but doesn't want to get them is a little bit of a stretch," Nelson told FoxNews.com, saying Clinton's frustration is understandable, but that the situation is "not as black and white as her comments may indicate."

"If we want them to help us with our security concerns, we have to be willing to help them with their national security concerns," Nelson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Cristina Corbin is a Fox News reporter based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin.