The Obama administration has intensified its debate about expanding Americas military presence in Pakistan, with some officials making the case to increase the number of Special Operations troops working with Pakistani forces in the countrys western mountains, The New York Times reported Friday. In a dispatch from Washington, the newspaper said the American military presence in Pakistan has already grown substantially over the past year, and now totals more than two hundred troops, part of a largely secret programme to share intelligence with Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops and train them to battle militant groups. But the failed bombing in Times Square, and evidence that the accused man, Faisal Shahzad, received training in a camp run by the Pakistani Taliban, has given support to those who want to expand the mission, the dispatch said. In particular, it said, some inside the administration believe that the C.I.A. programme of killing militants from the air is insufficient for preventing attacks on the West, and that an expanded training mission might raise confidence in Pakistans military enough to launch an offensive in the militant sanctuary of North Waziristan, in the tribal areas. There is a growing sense that there will need to be more of a boots on the ground strategy, an unnamed Obama administration official was quoted as saying. Officials, who requested anonymity to discuss strategy surrounding a programme that is technically secret, emphasized that any new troops in Pakistan would serve as advisers and trainers, not as combat forces. But the presence of any American troops on Pakistani soil is extremely sensitive, The Times noted. It is thought to be widely opposed by Pakistanis, and the Pentagon has worked hard to keep a low profile. American troops there are careful about how much time they spend away from enclosed garrisons. Officials said there was now discussion about presenting Pakistans government with a formal request to dispatch more Special Operations troops to the country. American officials believe they have improved relations with Islamabad in recent months, and that this might be a particularly opportune time to press the case. But one senior Pakistani official cautioned that Washington should not overreach, according to the newspaper. The Americans have to be careful not to make demands that are disproportionate to the good will they have built up, he said. It is also unclear how much leverage the United States would have, given that the attack was amateurish and unsuccessful. In the meantime, American officials said that Pakistans government had been helpful during the initial phase of the investigation. Investigators have passed along leads from Shahzads interrogation to officials at the American Embassy in Islamabad, who have passed the leads on to Pakistani authorities. So far, administration officials said, Pakistani authorities have been cooperating with requests for details about Shahzad and his family. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, spoke on Thursday with Pakistans prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and the foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Administration officials said their top priority was to nail down Shahzads links to militant groups, and then to press Pakistan to act against the groups. While the evidence continues to point to the Pakistani Taliban as the primary link, a senior official said Shahzad appears to be at the intersection of a whole lot of strands. Theres a bit of a false distinction being made between these groups, said another official. The Pakistani Taliban is connected to Al Qaeda, which is connected to the Haqqani network. I dont think you can put team jerseys on them. Pakistani officials have blown hot and cold on the issue of American troops in the country, The Times said. Months ago, when sentiment was running more strongly against additional troops, Pakistan held up issuing visas for advisers and trainers. After visits by senior officials, including Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pakistan began issuing them again. The near-miss in Times Square on Saturday evening is likely to make some Pakistani officials less reluctant to accept additional American trainers, said officials with knowledge of the Pakistani government. There is a sense in Islamabad, these officials said, that if the car bomb had exploded, it would have severely strained relations between the United States and Pakistan. Gen. David Petraeus, the head of United States Central Command, has been very supportive of the American training mission in Pakistan, according to the dispatch. But military officials said General Petraeus was cautious about making a formal request to Pakistan now, as he is concerned about the impact such a move would have on relations with Pakistans military and on inflaming anti-American sentiment in the country. For the Obama administration, the terrorist plot comes at a sensitive time in its effort to cultivate Pakistan, it noted. In March, it held a high-level strategic dialogue with Pakistans government, which officials said went a long way toward building up trust between the two sides. Pakistan, for its part, said it would crack down on any group making the United States a target. We do not, and we will not, make distinctions between any terrorist groups, Pakistans ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was quoted as saying. Pakistan has proven over the last few years that it is fighting extremists for its own sake. We will continue to do that.