Pakistan

United States must not ignore Pakistan, says McCain

MCAIN MAIN

WASHINGTON: The United States senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain has asked Washington, Islamabad and Kabul to settle their differences and concentrate more on fighting terrorists in unison, their common enemy.

While giving his opinion in The Financial Times, McCain said during his recent visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier in July, he was convinced that the US mission in Afghanistan was tougher without Pakistan’s assistance because the very mission in Afghanistan remained urgent and the same as it was at the start of it in 2001.

“The sooner the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan get down to the business of fighting their common terrorist enemies together, no matter where they hide, the better off the nations, the region and the world will be,” the senator said in the opinion piece.

McCain was in Pakistan on July 4 where he met civil-military leadership to discuss counterterrorism efforts in the region. He was also given a brief over the ongoing military offensive Zarb-e-Azb against militants when he visited Miramshah in the North Waziristan agency, once a militant stronghold.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services also paid an annual visit to Afghanistan to meet US military commanders and troops.

He wrote the visit confirmed that “the US mission in Afghanistan was the same today as it was in 2001: to disrupt and defeat terrorist networks that seek to attack its interests and homeland and to deny them safe haven. That mission remains urgent, and it is unfortunately not over yet.”

The US senator observed that Pakistan was impossible to ignore if the US wanted success in their mission and security of its troops in Afghanistan.

McCain’s visit also convinced him that “the strategic imperative for improved relations between the US and Pakistan is clear – for the safety of American troops and the success of their mission in Afghanistan, for the stability of the region and for the national security of both Pakistan and the US.”

He confirmed that the US-Pakistan relationship has been strained and limitations on US assistance to Pakistan and congressional reluctance to approve subsidies for the sale of defence articles added to tensions between the two countries.

“Despite this and other recent difficulties, the US and Pakistani leaders cannot allow ambivalence and suspicion to fester. Common interests in counterterrorism, nuclear security and regional stability are too important and too urgent,” he wrote and added, “To achieve real progress, the US must make clear its enduring commitment to Pakistan’s stability and economic growth.”

The US senator also urged Pakistan to take actions against the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

“This will be difficult for Pakistan. It will require political will and entail a costly sacrifice in blood and treasure. That is why there will be sceptics in the country opposed to decisive efforts to defeat extremism.”

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