Senator John McCain made a visit to Pakistan on Sunday. He, along with his delegation, met the civil and military leadership of the country. Chief of Army Staff guided the delegation on Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism. Special Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, opined that strategic partnership between the two countries “was critical to achieving peace and stability in the region and beyond”. The visit can be seen against the backdrop Modi’s recent trip to Washington. Also hardly a week before the visit of the Senator, the US State Department proposed a massive $190 million cut in aid to Pakistan as compared to 2016. It appears McCain is here to smooth things over, without offering much to make up for past hurts.

The Senator appreciated and acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in the war on terror, as he always does, but this is lip service till the US stops passing anti-Pakistan bills and sees the Kashmir issue as a real problem to regional peace. His actual task will be to provide the Trump administration with an objective analysis of the ground realities and convince the government that Pakistan is a central player in maintaining regional peace.

On Pakistan’s apprehensions regarding the shift in American policy on Kashmir, McCain said that the US has not changed its position on Kashmir. But the recent move by Trump administration, declaring Salah-ud-Din a global terrorist, suggests otherwise. It seems that the United States is dealing with the Kashmir issue the way it is dealing with the Palestinian one. Just as Israel is integral to securing American interests in the Middle East, India is central to America in this region to counter the growing influence of China. While talking to the media, McCain argued that the best solution for Kashmir is bilateral talks between India and Pakistan, signalling a lack of American concern.

The visit is also important, as an overview of the Afghan war is due mid-July. Since McCain has acknowledged Pakistan’s positive role in countering terrorism, his actual duty will be persuading the US officials to recognise Pakistan’s role in maintaining regional peace and stability. However, if the whole purpose of this visit was intended to ask Pakistan to ‘do more’, then the facts and figures are a testimonial to Pakistan’s relentless efforts to curb terrorism. Pakistan has suffered a gigantic $123.1 billion cost on account of the loss of lives, economic opportunities and damage to country’s infrastructure, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2016/17. Pakistan does not need to take any lesson from any country on fighting against terrorism. The carrot and stick policy is failing. Pakistan has many a time heard from America about its sacrifices. It is time for America to acknowledge its failures in Afghanistan rather than blame Pakistan.