Sen. John McCain visits Pakistan’s North Waziristan, praises anti-terrorist efforts

MIRANSHAH , Pakistan, July 4 (UPI) — A concerted effort against Pakistan’s Haqqani terrorist network is needed, Sen. John McCain said Monday during a visit to Pakistan.

McCain, R-Ariz., led a rare congressional delegation to Pakistan and Afghanistan, visiting Pakistan’s uneasy North Waziristan region Sunday. The area was formerly regarded as a terrorist hideout and staging area for attacks in Afghanistan, but has largely been cleared of insurgents, in part because of U.S. drone strikes.

The delegation, which included Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Benjamin Sasse of New Jersey and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, came to the region by military helicopter, after meeting with Gen. Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s military leader, on Saturday.

“I was very impressed with the progress (on the ground). I see us working together in confronting a common challenge – radical Islamic terrorism – and these kinds of meetings are very helpful to both those countries,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the state-run PTV television channel.

In a meeting with Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah, McCain said he asked Pakistani officials to increase its fight against terrorism, adding the United States would continue to support Afghanistan in its battle with terrorism.

A statement Monday from Pakistan’s military public relations agency said in part, “Having seen firsthand the erstwhile hideouts and communication infrastructure, (having) been cleared of terrorists, the delegation was highly appreciative of Pak Army’s accomplishment of cleansing the entire area of North Waziristan right up to Pak-Afghan Border. Senators also commended the rehabilitation work being carried out by Pak Army to resettle tribals (members of tribes populating the area) back in their area with dignity and honor.”

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