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Thursday, February 26, 2009

PAKISTAN: Time Running Out to Restore Stability - U.S. Report By Ali Gharib and Jim Lobe*

The 27-page report, "Needed: A Comprehensive U.S. Policy Towards Pakistan," called for at least four to five billion dollars in new aid for Islamabad of which one billion dollars should be earmarked for the military and the police, to help ward off the growing threat posed to the central government by Islamic militants based in the frontier regions with Afghanistan and linked to al-Qaeda.

"Simply put, time is running out for stabilising Pakistan's economy and security," the task force warned. "We cannot stress the magnitude of the dangerous enough nor the need for greater action now," it stressed, adding that failure to provide needed assistance could well result in "state failure."

"If we fail, we face a truly frightening prospect: terrorist sanctuary, economic meltdown, and spiraling radicalism, all in a nation with 170 million inhabitants and a full arsenal of nuclear weapons," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry at a Capitol Hill briefing on Wednesday, at which the report was released.

"The stakes could not be higher, and (this) report could not be more timely,''Kerry said.

Kerry, who served as the working group's honorary co-chair along with former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, used the report to push for swift Congressional passage of a bill that would authorise 7.5 billion dollars in non-military aid for Pakistan over the next five years.


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