Washington: As ties between the two countries hit a new low, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US' relationship with Pakistan has been a "difficult" one and the latter was gripped by a "weak economic leadership".

"It is a difficult relationship (with Pakistan). It has been for many, many years," Clinton told the PBS news hour at discussion on 'Innovation and the Global Marketplace: A Discussion on American Innovation, Trade, and the Next 10 Million Jobs'.

"You can go back and trace the difficulties that our country has encountered. We've gone through periods of closeness and periods of distance. Part of the reason we keep going back and working at it is because it's a very important relationship, and it's especially important with respect to our work in Afghanistan," she said.

"So it's not only the political choices that are made, it's the weak economic leadership that has gripped the country... it's a troubling set of economic conditions, as well as political ones, that we're trying to work with them on," Clinton said in response to a question.

The top American diplomat said because Pakistan is "so poor" and needs so much reform in their government and in the delivery of fundamental services that it is a "constant, vicious cycle if you can't have a decent tax base so that you can actually have schools for universal education, then you're going to have families desperate to get their sons educated, turning them over to madrasas inculcating them in extremism."

She said Pakistan will have to reform their agricultural sector, their energy sector and begin to wean their citizenry off subsidies in order to generate some kind of competitive economic environment.

"But the fact is that so few people pay taxes in Pakistan, and hardly anybody among the feudal landed elite and the rich pay taxes, so there's no base on which to build the kind of system of services that people would at least feel like, well, maybe it hasn't gotten to me yet, but my children's life will be better," Clinton said.