WASHINGTON: An influential Republican lawmaker said Sunday that the United States should link its military aid to Pakistan's cooperation on security, amid a crisis between the two countries over a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on security issues, charged that Pakistani intelligence continues to support a militant group that kills Americans, and he noted that Pakistani troops in the past have fired across the poorly marked Afghan border.
“This is a fog of war situation. Investigation is going on,” McCain said on CNN's State of the Union program, referring to the November 26 air strikes on a Pakistani border post that plunged relations between the two erstwhile allies into crisis.
“But also the fact is that the ISI, the intelligence arm of the Pakistani army, is still supporting the Haqqani network which is killing Americans. That is unacceptable,” he said.
He said materials in roadside bombs that have killed US forces in neighboring Afghanistan have been traced to two fertilizer factories in Pakistan.
Since the air strikes, a furious Pakistan has cut off the movement of supplies to US forces through Pakistan and ordered the closure of US drone operations at a Pakistani air base.
Asked how the United States should proceed, McCain said a complete break with Pakistan had been tried in the past for a ten year period and it did not work.
“But we have to address it in a realistic fashion and aid has to be gauged on the degree of cooperation that they are showing us in helping us prevent the needless deaths of young Americans,” he said.
“So I would gauge our aid, particularly military aid — and we've given many billions, as you know — directly related to the degree of cooperation they show us, and we have to explore all alternatives.” AGENCIES