Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accused the Obama administration of needlessly damaging the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and “antagonizing the Pakistanis” with an “in your face attitude.”
In an exclusive interview Thursday with the NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, McCain said that the administration’s encouragement of India taking a more active role in Afghanistan while simultaneously criticizing Pakistan could be a recipe for disaster.
“To further antagonize Pakistan unnecessarily is not something I would particularly think is appropriate,” said the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It’s a very delicate situation, one in which I would be very careful what we say publicly,” especially because the Pakistanis “are supporting organizations that are killing Americans.”
“I would have nurtured this relationship with India sort of the way we have been for years, rather than sort of antagonizing the Pakistanis even more with this kind of in your face attitude,” he said.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters in Afghanistan last week that the United States was “reaching the limits of our patience” with Pakistan, which he accused of providing a “safe haven” for the Haqqani network and other groups that launch attacks on U.S. forces.
A day before these remarks, Panetta stopped in New Delhi, where he encouraged the Indian government to take a “more active role” in training police and other reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.
McCain said that he has long supported a close relationship with India, but that he would “do it more quietly…(India) will be a very important ally to us in the future. And they are a democracy.”
McCain told Woodruff that while the Pakistanis often act counter to U.S. interests, it “doesn’t mean that we also cut off all relations with Pakistan because then it could become even more unstable and we could have even greater challenges since they have a nuclear inventory, among other things.”
Video edited by Justin Scuiletti. Watch the full interview on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour.