Stating that President Donald Trump's administration "had no strategy" in Afghanistan, top US Senator John McCain today unveiled his own plan for the war-torn country in which he proposes to impose "graduated" costs on Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist groups.
McCain's said the goal of his strategy was to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a sanctuary for terrorists to plot and conduct attacks against America or its allies.
"We must face facts: we are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide," McCain said as he introduced his Afghan strategy as an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, which is slated to come up for discussion before the Senate next month.
To win in Afghanistan, McCain said, the US needed an integrated civil-military approach to bolster counterterrorism efforts, strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a negotiated peace process in cooperation with regional partners.
McCain, the chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, called for an enduring presence of American troops in Afghanistan.
He also proposed tough measures against Pakistan for its continued support to terrorist groups.
McCain proposed "imposing graduated diplomatic, military, and economic costs on Pakistan as long as it continues to provide support and sanctuary to terrorist and insurgent groups, including the Taliban and the Haqqani Network."
He proposed outlining the potential benefits of a long- term US-Pakistan strategic partnership that could result from Pakistan's cessation of support for all terrorist groups.
He called for intensification of regional diplomatic efforts for regional dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and other nations to promote Afghan political reconciliation.
McCain proposed providing the US military with status- based targeting authorities against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups that threaten the US, its allies and its interests.
McCain said America is "adrift" in Afghanistan.
"President Obama's 'don't lose' strategy has put US on a path to achieving the opposite result. Now, nearly seven months into President Trump's administration, we've had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened. The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander- in-chief," he said.
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