Washington, April 19 (IANS) Former US Republican presidential candidate John McCain has said the Kashmir dispute was not an excuse for Pakistan to not break ties with the Haqqani network, held responsible for recent coordinated attacks across Afghanistan
“Pakistan should not take refuge behind Kashmir conflict for not taking action against terrorist groups that operate almost openly in Pakistan,” he said speaking on the “Future of Afghanistan” at Carnegie Institute, a Washington think tank.
“I have sympathy for Pakistani military leadership, but disappointed at ISI’s continued cooperation with Haqqanis,” McCain said calling Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence’s close relationship with the Haqqani network as “reprehensible.”
It remained a “source of never-ending frustration” that the ISI had a continuous relationship with the Haqqani network, when Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is responsible for appointing the head of the ISI.
In response to a question on Kayani’s recent statement on India, the US senator said that while he appreciated it, the fact remains that the Pakistan Army’s best troops and equipment were on the border with India, and not Afghanistan.
McCain also criticised the Obama administration’s policy on reconciliation with the Taliban and its “fixation” on a 2014 deadline to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban has no incentive to make peace as long as they think that the US is leaving Afghanistan, he said suggesting the US should have a strategic partnership with Afghanistan.
It would “demonstrate to Pakistan that continued support for the Taliban will leave them more isolated and less secure,” he said.