Senator John McCain’s visit to Pakistan in early June came at a critical time. The relationship between Pakistan and the United States was at its lower ebbs; the Congress had recently blocked the F-16 subsidy, and Pakistan was being roundly – and unfairly – criticised in a couple of US parliamentary subcommittees on its commitment (or lack of) in the war on terror. The death of Mullah Mansour in Balochistan by a drone strike added another layer of tension between the two states.

A diffusion was clearly needed, and John McCain aimed to provide that. His visit was prefaced with a message of ‘mending ties’ and the military enthusiastically took him on a guided tour of the tribal areas to show the progress that had been made. He left saying he was “impressed” and the state’s media wing chalked up a visit as another “success”. Critics remained sceptical; the Congress showed little nuance in its analysis of Pakistan and major defence agreements remained unfinished.

Yet, in light of the Senator’s article in the Financial Times, entitled “America ignores Pakistan at its peril”, it does seem we can term his visit a “success” – albeit tentatively.

In the face of the Taliban and the Islamic State’s resurgence, the general tenor has been one of accusation rather than optimism – a fact true for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. John McCain however, strikes a conciliatory and complimentary tone. He makes two key points: Afghanistan requires the same assistance it needed in 2001, and secondly, Pakistan needs to be viewed independently from the Afghan crisis – although Pakistan is crucial to resolution of the first. He details his first-hand experience with the success of the military operation, talks about the noticeable and sustainable increase in security, and crucially urges the United States to continue providing assistance and strategic intelligence to Pakistan – including his endorsement of the stalled F-16 deal.

This is progress, surely, but his article does contain cautious words of criticism, and the age-old provisos. There seems to be little political will to tackle extremism, and that both the military and civilian leaders should follow up on their commitment to engage groups like the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban.

He ends on a note of doom and destruction; cautioning the United States to not ignore Pakistan if it wants the region to be stable. In his words we can fathom another caution, Pakistan needs to do much more if it wants to count the United States as an ally.