WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is working to persuade the Pakistani government that its traditional focus on India as a threat has to shift to extremists, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday, voicing grave concern over the new developments in the country. Testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee, she said that Pakistan is now beginning to recognise the severity of the threat posed by the growing insurgency that is encroaching on key urban areas. She spoke as reports came in of the move by Taliban-backed militants into the Buner district, closer than ever to Islamabad, prompting concerns here about the future of the nuclear-armed nation of 165 million. On Wednesday a local Taliban militia crossed from the Swat Valley - where a February cease-fire allowed the implementation of Sharia law - into the neighbouring Buner district. Pakistan changing paradigms and mind-sets are not easy, but I do believe there is an increasing awareness of not just the Pakistani government but the Pakistani people that this insurgency coming closer and closer to major cities does pose such a threat, she said. On Wednesday, Clinton told another House committee that in her view the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists and was ceding territory to the militants. She said Thursday that the administrations special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, has had painful, specific conversations with a wide range of Pakistanis about the need to act more effectively against the insurgents. There is a significant opportunity here for us working in collaboration with the Pakistani government to help them get the support they need to make that mind-set change and act more vigorously against this threat, she said, adding: There are no promises. They have to do it. Clinton said US is engaged at the highest levels on the profound question of improving Pakistan-India relations as any escalation over Kashmir would jeopardise security and severely harm the ongoing fight against the extremists. There have to be efforts to enhance confidence between India and Pakistan there have been a number of high-level discussions by members of our administrations including between the President Barack Obama and the Indian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in London, raising the issue how India can do more to tamp down any reaction on any fronts like Mumbai could have provoked, she said. Clinton however, said building confidence between the two South Asian nations is not likely to be undertaken until the Indian elections are over next month after which New Delhi will have a new government. The chief US diplomat observed that extremists want to provoke tension between Pakistan and India and the administration has been focused on preventing that. We worked very hard as did the prior administration to prevent India from reacting. But we know that the insurgents, al-Qaeda and their syndicate partners are pretty smart. They are not going to cease their attacks inside India because they are looking for the kind of reaction that we all hope to prevent, she stated when Congressman Jerry Lewis raised the issue of addressing Pakistan-India relations at the hearing. So we do have a lot of work to do with the Indian government to make sure that they continue to exercise the kind of restraint they showed after Mumbai, which was remarkable, especially given the fact that it was the political season. Washington, she said, is also encouraging Pakistani government to reach out to the Indian government, to the Indians and to continue some of those confidence building measures that they were doing, like opening the bus routes in Kashmir and other things that did have some positive effects. But Clinton encountered scepticism from some committee members who expressed doubt about succeeding in Pakistan. Congressman David Obey, a Democrat, told her he worries that the administrations policy agenda -domestic and foreign - could be devoured by the Pakistan-Afghanistan problem. I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of the existing Pakistan government to do one blessed thing, Obey said. Congresswoman Nita Lowey, also a Democrat, the committee chairperson, expressed similar concerns. The escalating terrorist violence in Pakistan and that governments inability and unwillingness to confront the extremist threat undermine any progress we have made in Afghanistan and complicates future efforts there, Ms Lowey said. I fear that we are losing the window of international consensus and commitment to help the region gain a strong foothold on its long climb out of conflict. One measure of progress in Pakistan, Clinton said, is the extent to which the Pakistani military is shifting its troops from the Indian border to the Afghan border, where the Taliban threat has been expanding. Clinton was appearing before the appropriations panel that is reviewing the administrations request for $7.1 billion in additional funds for the State Department this budget year. Of that total, $497 million would be for State Department support of Pakistan and $980 million would be for Afghanistan. About $482 million would be for Iraq. Clinton said that local job creation is a key purpose of the extra funds requested for State Department work in Afghanistan. She told the panel that a main goal is to improve security at the local level in Afghanistan by putting more people to work. And she said the administration believes that many in the Taliban insurgency who are fighting against US and Afghan forces are motivated more by money than ideology. Clinton defended President Barack Obamas effort to engage diplomatically with Iran, calling it a reasonable alternative to what she called a failed Bush administration policy. We tried the policy of total isolation for eight years, she said in a rising voice, and it did not deter Iran one bit. The nuclear program has continued unabated. They werent supporting Hamas before. They are supporting Hamas now. Clinton said it remains unclear whether international pressure on Iran will compel it to change course. Sanctions are a tool for us to leverage pressure on the Iranian regime to change behaviour that we obviously consider serious threats, she said. And so we are talking with our partners about additional sanctions as part of an incentives-disincentives approach to Iran. Its a difficult balancing act. Agencies add: Hillary Clinton said the Pakistani government is 'abdicating to the Taliban by allowing extremists to impose Islamic law in parts of the country. She said that many Pakistanis, especially in the countryside, 'dont believe the state has a judiciary system that works. Its corrupt, it doesnt convey its power into the countryside. But she told the congressional hearing that the Pakistani government 'shares our goals in respect to the terrorist threat. Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that Pakistani leaders must act to stop Taliban militants who are posing a threat to the countrys stability and failure to confront the threat could affect US-Pakistani relations. In a visit on Thursday to a military installation in North Carolina where Marines are preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, Gates said some Pakistani leaders recognise the 'existential threat facing the countrys democratic government from the Taliban. But it is important that they not only recognise it but take appropriate actions to deal with it, he told reporters at an outdoor briefing. The stability and longevity of democratic government in Pakistan is central to the efforts of the coalition in Afghanistan and it is also central to our future partnership with the government in Islamabad, Gates added. We want to support them. We want to help them in any way we can. But it is important that they recognise the real threats to their country.