U..S. Senator John McCain declared that the United States must stand with Pakistan, despite the proliferation of suspicions about how that country’s military and intelligence apparatus may have helped and supported terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.
Speaking on Fox News, the Republican from Arizona conceded that there is likely a link between Pakistani intelligence officials and the various terrorist groups that operate in the country and in neighboring Afghanistan.
“There is no doubt that there is a weak government [in Pakistan] with a lot of corruption,” he said. “[But] we have to care not only because of what happens in Afghanistan, but [because] they are also in possession of a nuclear arsenal and to see that country collapse would have the possibility of radical elements taking over and that nuclear arsenal being compromised.”
McCain added in a lament: “So there is a lot at stake there. And it is frustrating and but at the same time we need to do what we can to help that country. But in all candor, it has never been really a functioning government.”
McCain added that given the poor shape of Pakistan’s economy, there is little the US can do to root out corruption in the government and its agencies.
“Our options are very limited,” he said. “But to try to assist them and try to move towards democracy in my view is a very difficult … path but extremely [necessary]. The other options are not really viable. For a ten-year period we cut off relations with Pakistan, things got worse. And so to do that obviously would not be the answer.”
Moreover, given the multi-billion dollar aid package that the US government has promised Pakistan, McCain demands accountability from Islamabad.
“If it is not accountable we shouldn't extend [the aid],” he said.
“I think that is just fundamental. That there is no doubt at the highest level they do not pay taxes. It's not so much corruption -- there is a corruption in Afghanistan as well, but it's not so much corruption as a way of life.”
McCain also praised President Barack Obama’s role in the killing of Osama.
“The president gets high marks,” he said. “And obviously the president was heavily engaged and the president, [CIA chief] Leon Panetta and [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and everybody all the way on down. And everything didn't go as planned in that operation but they adjusted and it is an amazing accomplishment.”
McCain ran for President under the Republican ticket in 2008 and lost to Obama.