WASHINGTON " US presidential rivals - Barack Obama and John McCain - both called Tuesday for action to improve the worsening military situation in Afghanistan, with the Republican accusing Obama of "bluster" and "idle threats" about striking al-Qaeda in Pakistan. At the same time, they also charged each other with misunderstanding how Iraq fits into the overall struggle against terrorism. Reacting to Obama's threat against Pakistan, McCain called for giving the South Asian country special attention and strengthening the local tribes that are willing to fight terrorists there, as well as greater nonmilitary assistance to the new civilian government. "Senator Obama has spoken in public about taking unilateral military action in Pakistan. In trying to sound tough, he has made it harder for the people whose support we most need to provide it," McCain told a campaign event in New Mexico. In a major foreign policy speech in Washington, Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful, promised to strike at al-Qaeda in Pakistan if Islamabad would not, to secure loose nuclear weapons, combat climate change and end the "tyranny" of US reliance on foreign oil. "Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don't have unlimited resources to try to make it one," Obama said. "I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war," Obama said, ahead of an expected visit to Iraq and Afghanistan soon, and talks with the leaders of European powers, Israel and Jordan. "As President, I will pursue a tough, smart and principled national security strategy " one that recognizes that we have interests beyond Baghdad, in Kandahar and Karachi, in Tokyo and London, in Beijing and Berlin," he said. "I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century." Senator McCain, who had criticized Senator Obama for questioning the current Iraq policy though he had not been there since the surge, took his opponent's trip as an opportunity to tweak him yet again. "Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan. And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General (David) Petraeus, (the US top commander in Iraq) before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy." McCain agreed with Obama that the anti-terror efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan could require more troops, and proposed adding at least three more brigades " about 3,500 troops in each " in that region. "I think we need to do whatever is necessary" in Afghanistan, he said. But Obama said the evidence was overwhelming that the pre-eminent focus on Iraq, where the United States has five times more troops stationed than in Afghanistan, has distracted the nation from what he called "the central front in the war on terror" " terrorists led by al Qaeda and supported by the Taliban. "It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large," he said. "Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia. If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned." Later, in a television interview, Obama insisted that his administration will go into Pakistan unilaterally if there was actionable intelligence. He said that in order to effectively deal with al-Qaeda, the US has to have a stronger relationship with the new government in Pakistan unlike the way the Bush administration had placed all the eggs in the basket of President Pervez Musharraf. "... I think it is extraordinary, the failure of this administration, to roll up al-Qaeda leadership in a serious way. We know they're based now in Pakistan. And I've said that if we had actionable intelligence on those high-value targets, then we should go after them," Obama said on Larry King Live. "... In order for us to be effective in dealing with the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban as they use Pakistan -- the northwest provinces -- as a sanctuary, we've got to have a stronger relationship with the Pakistani government -- the new Pakistani government," he added. "We had put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket. President Musharraf has lost credibility with his people. What we need to do is to form an alliance with the Pakistani people, saying that we're willing to significantly increase aid for humanitarian purposes," the Illinois Senator said. "We want to support democratic efforts in Pakistan. But in exchange, we've got to have some firmness about going after al-Qaeda and Taliban, because it's not good for American security, but it's also not good for Pakistani security," he said. The Illinois democrat was pressed specifically on the issue if the United States under his administration will militarily go inside Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden. "As I've said before, I would use -- if I had actionable intelligence, we would go after bin Laden," Senator Obama replied. The Illinois Democrat who now leads his rival Senator John McCain by at least eight points in a latest survey argued that he has not gone back on his plans for Iraq which is still the withdrawal of American troops under a 16 month framework upon assuming but with a residual force staying back. "Where Senator McCain I think is confused is the difference between tactics and strategy. I am absolutely convinced that, strategically, it is time for us to bring this war to an end. And we can bring our combat troops out over the course of 16 months, which would mean that we would have gotten our combat troops out two years from now -- seven years from the time that the war began," Senator Obama maintained. "And that is not a precipitous withdrawal. It is a pace that I think would allow us to do what we need to do in Iraq, and that is to make sure that their army and their police forces are sufficiently trained to manage day-to-day operations inside of Iraq," he said. "I've also said that we'll leave a residual force there to engage in counter-terrorism activities inside Iraq, as well, to protect our bases and our diplomats and civilian workers there. But this gives us ample time to wind this thing down in a way that allows us to support what's happening in Afghanistan and relieves the extraordinary stresses that have been placed on military families," he added.