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Ignoring Pakistan will be dangerous, says McCain

Updated Jul 28, 2016 07:49am

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WASHINGTON: The Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain, has urged the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan to overcome their differences and get down to the business of fighting terrorists.

In an opinion piece published in The Financial Times on Tuesday, Senator McCain argued that without Pakistan’s cooperation, the US mission in Afghanistan would become “immeasurably more difficult”.

“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,” he wrote.

Mr McCain visited the Pak-Afghan region in the first week of July and in Pakistan, he met civilian and military leaders and discussed counterterrorism efforts with them. He also visited North Waziristan.

He wrote that the visit had convinced him that the US mission in Afghanistan was the same now as it was in 2001: to disrupt and defeat terrorist networks. He also realised that enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan was essential for defeating these terrorists.

The visit, he added, has also convinced him that the strategic imperative for improved relations between the US and Pakistan was clear: the safety of American troops and the success of their mission in Afghanistan. It was also important for the stability of the region and for the national security of both Pakistan and the US.

The senator noted that limitations on US assistance to Pakistan and congressional reluctance to approve subsidies for the sale of defence articles had added to existing tensions between the two governments.

“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.

Senator McCain acknowledged that for too long, the US has viewed the bilateral relationship only through the prism of Afghanistan. “To achieve real progress, the US must make clear its enduring commitment to Pakistan’s stability and economic growth”.

He also urged Pakistan to “take on and eliminate havens for terrorist groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-i-Mohammad that operate within its borders, attack its neighbours and kill US forces”.

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

The senator pointed out that sceptics had advised Pakistani leaders not to confront the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan as well but they dealt successfully with TTP terrorists after Peshawar school attack in December 2014.

“During my visit to Miramshah in North Waziristan, I saw the city’s bazaar that once housed bomb-making factories, arms dealers and office fronts for terrorist groups,” he wrote. “Thanks to the actions of Pakistani soldiers, this death market is no more.”

Senator McCain argued that now Pakistan had the opportunity to “prove the sceptics wrong again” by taking on terrorist groups that targeted Afghan, Indian and US forces in the region with the same energy with which it had pursued the fight against the Pakistani Taliban.

“By taking on all terrorist groups operating in its territory, Pakistan will find that the US remains willing and able to assist in this fight and develop an enduring strategic partnership,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2016

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Comments (24) Closed



Anthropologist Jul 28, 2016 06:49am

Extensions of foreign policy actors are never harmed. They are to be nurtured and used at the right times of need.

komal s Jul 28, 2016 06:55am

This is crucial decision making time in Pakistan due to change of guards at the defence forces, US wants to stay engaged so it has influence on the replacement

Vivek (Indore) Jul 28, 2016 07:17am

Pak and Afghan still have a long way to go.

Anil Jul 28, 2016 07:30am

Headline of the story sums it up!

Mike London Jul 28, 2016 08:00am

Pakistan must be sincere in dealing with the above mentioned issues.

Sajjad Jul 28, 2016 08:55am

Pakistan's worth is more than that.

Alba Jul 28, 2016 09:05am

McCain is proud of protecting America from invasion by North Vietnam.

Sohail Jul 28, 2016 09:19am

@Vivek (Indore) likewise india

Atif Khan Jul 28, 2016 10:26am

Pakistan's relationship with the US must be more than just security compulsions.

The war on terrorism cannot be won through violence. Its already been two decades with no results to show.

Pakistan has a vertical integrated cotton garment industry. The United States can invest in a garment corridor in KP

Salaam Namaste Jul 28, 2016 12:47pm

@Atif Khan Security and cotton have no connection. IF there is no security, no one will invest in making matchbox in Pakistan

Zealot Jul 28, 2016 01:10pm

So Now you realized who were actual Chumps?

Observer Jul 28, 2016 02:55pm

There is confusion amongst the US lawmakers about dealing with Pakistan. The recent US Congress subcommittee hearing, titled, "Pakistan a friend or foe" shows the deep-seated anger towards Pakistan. Yet the repeating statements of senator Jhon MacCain shows there might still be a soft corner left for Pakistan. It appears the US has resorted to the "good cop bad cop" policy due to the reason that it cannot risk alienating Pakistan completely neither can it support Pakistan due to the resistance of Congress.

Abdulla Hussain Jul 28, 2016 03:18pm

US feels the importance of Pakistan only for fight against terror, what sort of a relationship the US wants to develop, Us should understand & remember the all round support Pakistan has given to US over the years. It looks US consider Pakistan a fighting machine only

Abdulla Hussain Jul 28, 2016 03:23pm

Pakistan should negotiate all future support to US based on a total package including full modernization of Pakistan's conventional weapons, direct mediation to solve Kashmir issue with India. Take some leave some will not do any more. No more do more theory acceptable to Pakistanis.

Khwarezmi Jul 28, 2016 04:06pm

The elephant in the room is India which is using Afghan soil against Pakistan. The Americans are very smart and know this but is letting it happen anyway.

Zak Jul 28, 2016 04:15pm

'by taking on terrorist groups that targeted Afghan, Indian and US forces in the region with the same energy with which it had pursued the fight against the Pakistani Taliban.'

Senator Maccain needs to visit Sri Nagar and see who the real terrorits are and who are dieing daily. Pakistan has no control on the freedom sentiments of the kashmiris under brutal indian occupation.

Zak Jul 28, 2016 04:20pm

US needs to prove itself as a friend of Pakistan. It needs to get involved in resolving kashmir. The core consequences of the indian kashmir occupation will be removed. This includes US, Afghanistan, Pakistan contradictions and Pakistan acrimony with India.

Dr.Sadaf Jul 28, 2016 04:55pm

@Mike London , Pakistan is very sincere in dealing with these issues as our own security is at the greatest risk but the question is that the rest of the stakeholders in this ballgame should also be sincere and refrain from creating more problems for us.

Dr.Sadaf Jul 28, 2016 05:01pm

Stop the do more policy and start the do it yourself policy, we need our army to protect our own borders since we do not live in a very friendly neighborhood.

ahaq Jul 28, 2016 06:44pm

Unfortunately McCain has not much influence and power left even in his own party.

MP Singh Jul 28, 2016 07:02pm

McCain's voice has no value in USA now. He may not be even re-elected this year.

N_Saq Jul 28, 2016 07:19pm

McCain is a veteran politician and also a war vet, he knows it very well that all roads to peace in Afghanistan leads through Islamabad and unless or until Pak security concerns are addressed nothing can be achieved.

I thought people know it by now as it's been 15 years and the war in Afghanistan still rages on. The Afghan government is not even visible outside Kabul. US can end up fighting this war forever, if she refuse to join Pak on the negotiating table and address Pak's security concerns. The ball is in India, Afghanistan and US court...

Mohammad Aryubi Jul 28, 2016 10:34pm

Pakistan is not likely to take on asset serving its regional agenda . In these circumstances, Afghanistan has to Pay the former with the same coin and resort to tit-for-tat policy.

Shaukat(USA) Jul 29, 2016 01:44am

@MP Singh , and you know all the facts of McCain's popularity,do you, on what basis you are saying he won't be elected next year while you are residing in Jalandhar in India and I am residing in Arizona,USA in his constituency. He is still a power house in Republican party and the chairman of powerful foreign relation committee.