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US officials ratchet up pressure on Pakistan over Taliban militants

On eve of White House summit, Pakistani officials push back against the impression that they're responding to Washington pressure.

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The Obama administration appears to have pushed some hot buttons with the government of Pakistan – getting some quick action against the rising threat from the country's extremist forces, but also irritating a leadership anxious to show it is not acting under pressure from anyone.

That sequence follows a familiar pattern in US-Pakistan relations, experts in the region say: first comes some American action, usually rhetorical, followed by just enough Pakistani action to satisfy Washington.

The difference this time is that Pakistani action follows a shift in US focus: from Pakistan as it affects the war next door in Afghanistan to Pakistan itself and its stability amid an intensifying confrontation with Taliban militants.

"We're seeing this evolution where we are coming to recognize that between these two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan is ultimately more critical to our national security," says Marvin Weinbaum, a former South Asia specialist with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. "There's a dawning realization that we have a partnership in serious difficulty and a country under serious threat."

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