US wants relations with Pakistan to improve

US senator John Mccain
US senator John Mccain

US SENATOR John McCain said last Sunday (3) he would like relations between US and Pakistan to improve as they have a common enemy in the Islamic State (Daesh) and other radical Islamist groups.

Relations between both countries have been frayed over the past decade, with US officials frustrated by what they term Islamabad’s unwillingness to act against Islamist groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

Pakistan rejects harbouring militants, but says there are limits to how much it can do as it is already fighting multiple Islamist groups and is wary of “blowback” in the form of more terror attacks on its soil.

McCain, visiting Pakistan as part of a US delegation, said he had an “excellent meeting” with Pakistani foreign ministry officials.

“We come back with a message that we have a common enemy in Isis radical Islam and terrorism, and we look forward to closer relations and resolving the differences we have,” McCain told Pakistan’s national PTV channel.

Bilateral relations were tested in May by a US drone strike that killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour on Pakistani soil.

As part of the visit, McCain travelled to Miranshah, the capital of the restive North Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan. The region was effectively run by Islamist groups, such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network, until the Pakistani military launched operations against them in 2014.

“I was very impressed with the progress (on the ground),” said McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I see us working together in confronting a common challenge.” The Islamic State has struggled to gain a major foothold in Pakistan, analysts say, but officials worry it may pose a future threat.