WASHINGTON - The United States should help Pakistan cut ISI’s alleged ties to the Haqqani network that targets American troops in Afghanistan, and to move towards a better democracy and a lessening of corruption, Senator John McCain has said. “Pakistan is vital to United States national security interests for a broad variety of reasons, including the nuclear inventory that Pakistan has, including the fact that Pakistan’s role in the region is vital, not to mention relations with India,” the former presidential candidate said in a speech at a Washington think-tank “But,” he said, “We have to operate in our relations with Pakistan with the realization that the ISI has close relations with the Haqqani network, and they are carrying out activities that kill Americans.Now, that’s just an assessment that cannot be refuted by the facts, and it saddens me.”He added,”It is in our interest to aid Pakistan and try to assist them to a better democracy and a lessening of corruption and a severingof relations between the ISI and the Haqqani network. But we cannot force it. If there is any lesson we should have to learn over and over again, we can’t force the Pakistani government and people to change their ways unless they want to.”

McCain said the America’s mistake in breaking military relations with Pakistan in the 1990s still continues to impact their bilateral ties.“One of the gravest mistakes in recent history was the so-called Pressler Amendment, which basically cut off our military-to- military relations, and we are paying, still paying a very heavy price for.”

The senior lawmaker opposed the notion that Pakistan is a failed state.“I don’t argue that, but I do – could argue plausibly that the politics in Pakistan are very, very unsettled, to say the least,” McCain said.

“And it’s so disheartening sometimes to see the lack of progress towards a meaningful democracy and rule of law and all the things that we would hope that the Pakistanis might achieve. But whether we are successful in persuading them or not, Pakistan will remain a country that is vital to United States national security interests. “I don’t have to draw for you the various scenarios of a breakdown in their government. So I hope we will continue to work with the Pakistanis in every possible way we can, but we must take a totally realistic approach to our relations with Pakistan.”