A U.S. congressional delegation on Tuesday warned that Washington will change its approach towards Pakistan if Islamabad fails to tackle militants effectively.
The five-member bipartisan delegation which comprises senator John McCain and fellow senators Lindsey Graham, Elizabeth Warren, David Perdue and Sheldon Whitehouse arrived in Kabul on Tuesday after holding discussions with Pakistani officials in Islamabad.
The congressional delegation stressed the need for the elimination of the Taliban and its brutal offshoot Haqqani Network and their safe havens in Pakistan.
They said that the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan was needed and that more authorities should be given to these forces to win the war in the country.
“We told them (Pakistan) that in our view, the Haqqani having a safe zone in their country was not acceptable. They (Pakistan) responded that they have taken some measures which is true, such as clearing Waziristan and doing some other work that I think has been important. We told them that we would be discussing the entire situation with the president, with general Mattis and General McMaster. We made it very clear that we expect them to help us in cooperating in our struggle particularly against Haqqani as well as other terror organizations,” said McCain.
“The time for strategy has come. We need a strategy in the United States that defines our role in Afghanistan, defines our objective and explains how we are going to get from here to there,” said senator Elizabeth Warren.
“To Pakistan, if they don’t change their behavior, we are not going to give the right answer, if they don’t change their behavior, then maybe we should change our behavior toward Pakistan as a nation. I will say that I went to North Waziristan and South Waziristan and one thing I will tell him after this visit; you need to pull all our troops out, because eighty six hundred will not get the job done, or add to their number. I think more American forces with NATO forces with more aggressive roles of engagement, utilization of American air power will turn stalemate into success, but we will not win this war to kinetic activity and all of us realize,” said senator Lindsey Graham.
In the past, the U.S senators have said that the existence of Taliban hideouts and safe havens on the other side of the Durand Line pose serious threats to the stability and security in Afghanistan.
The delegation was taken by Pakistan's military to the semi-autonomous South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
South Waziristan and the neighboring North Waziristan district - part of which is known as the Federally Administered Tribal Area or FATA - have for years harbored local and foreign militants that have been blamed for terrorist attacks in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.
The lawmakers' trip comes as Islamabad faces mounting criticism for providing sanctuaries to Taliban-linked groups, who are plotting attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistan.