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Pak PM is pro-America, says John McCain

By Lalit K Jha
January 19, 2010 13:06 IST
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Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is on shaky grounds, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is pro-America and Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani is doing well in taking military action against terrorists in his country, a top Republican Senator said on Monday.

"Pakistan is doing much better. The President of Pakistan is on shaky ground because of a loss of immunity that has been enacted by the Parliament. The Prime Minister is a, I think, also very pro-American," Senator John McCain told the Fox News in an interview.

McCain, who lost to US President Barack Obama in October 2008, was recently in Pakistan; wherein he met the top leadership of the country. "I think there is no doubt that Kayani, who is the head of the Pakistani army, has a good relationship with our military leaders Admiral (Mike) Mullen and General (David) Petraeus. The Pakistani army is doing much better, and they are sustaining significant casualties," McCain said.

Admiral Mullen is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the US Staff, while General Petraeus is Commander of the US Central Command. Both the leaders make frequent trips to Pakistan. McCain said the Pakistani Army in South Waziristan and doing well against terrorists.

"They're planning on going into areas that have never been controlled by any government. So, I am pleased with the progress militarily that has been made, but it is also going to be a very long, tough slog here, and we have to prepare for that," McCain said. He, however, said there is strong anti-American sentiment in Pakistan there.

"There are difficulties in the government. But a year ago, people thought that Pakistan, the whole government would collapse. It has not. Their military has been performing better," he argued. When asked about US drone attacks inside Pakistan, McCain said this is an important tool in the US war against terrorism which has been able to disrupt al-Qaeda.

"It has significant beneficial effects. At the same time, the Pakistani government has to condemn it, and it's a very delicate balance that going on there," he said. He said the public opinion is not that much favorable against the United States in Pakistan.

"But militarily, they
have been doing better, and their government is far more stable than it was a short time ago," he said. "The Pakistanis are also nervous, as the Afghans are, as are other countries in the region, about the president's declaration that we would be leaving in the middle of 2011. That and the build-up of the Afghan army being sufficient to take over responsibilities from us eventually are the two big problems that I saw on my visit," McCain added.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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