Tue, Sep

McCain's Meeting With Sharif 'Productive' But 'Taliban Still A Threat'


john-mccainU.S Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Friday night he had "enjoyed a productive meeting with Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on cooperating to fight our terrorist enemies."

McCain said in a statement the fight against the Taliban is far from over and that the Taliban continues to play a key role in the region.

"I appreciate General Sharif meeting with Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. The meeting was productive and informative to all Members of the Committee."

The statement went on to read: "We value our relationship with Pakistan during these very challenging times. Members believe that the fight against the Taliban is far from over and the Taliban continues to play a key role in the region."

"Under the leadership of General Sharif, the Pakistani Army has inflicted losses to the enemy at great sacrifice. I thanked General Sharif for his leadership and expressed my appreciation for the sacrifice of so many brave Pakistani soldiers in the fight against terrorism."

In addition, he said the meeting focused on the situation in Afghanistan, the fight against Daesh and ways to improve coordination and cooperation between the two countries against terrorist enemies. "Going forward, I hope we will continue working closely together in the interest of both our countries."

Reuters meanwhile reported earlier that just days before Pakistan's powerful army chief was due to visit Washington for talks on regional stability and fighting militancy, Sharif engaged in thinly veiled criticism of the nuclear-armed country's civilian government.

A terse statement from the army's PR wing underlined the tension between Pakistan's military and its civilian government.

After top generals met to review a major crackdown on extremists, the Pakistani military said it would be "undermined" if the government did not take "matching governance initiatives".

That was taken to mean police reform, action on militant financing and better governance of restive tribal areas.

"He (Sharif) is foreign minister, prime minister, president and army chief all rolled into one," said a Pakistani newspaper editor, while also questioning the military's motives.

"His greatest achievement is that he has cemented this idea that the army is no longer interested in politics."

The general, not related to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has helped recast the image of the military, which has ousted several civilian governments and ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history.

Since taking office two years ago, Sharif has been credited with broadening Pakistan's strategic policy to focus less narrowly on India and recognize the threat to internal security posed by the Pakistani Taliban and other militants.

Raheel Sharif is dubbed the "Man of Action" of Pakistani politics.