Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kerry: Pakistan urgently needs 4-5 billion dollars

WASHINGTON, Feb 24, 2009 (AFP) - The United States and Europe must give Pakistan 4-5 billion dollars in urgent aid or risk seeing the nuclear-armed country slip into chaos, two leading US foreign policy voices warned Tuesday.
Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican former senator Chuck Hagel, now chair of the Atlantic Council think tank, were to release a formal report on Wednesday appealing for international help to stabilize Pakistan.
"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," Kerry said in a statement released by the council.
Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he and Republican Senator Richard Lugar would soon introduce legisation aiming to provide Pakistan with 7.5 billion dollars in non-military aid over five years.
The legislation, known as the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, would advocate the same amount -- which would be triple current US levels of non-military aid -- over the next five years, aides said.
The bill would make the aid available on the condition that the US secretary of state certifies that Pakistan's security forces are making concerted efforts to prevent Al-Qaeda, associated terrorist groups, and the Taliban, from operating from Pakistani territory.
The report entitled Needed: A Comprehensive US Policy Towards Pakistan, "calls for an additional 4-5 billion dollars of immediate financial aid for Pakistan to avert an economic meltdown," according to a statement from the council.
"Given the tools and the financing, Pakistan can turn back from the brink. But for that to happen, it needs help now," according to the council.
The report "will assist the Obama administration as it develops and implements a comprehensive and strategic policy toward Pakistan and this combustible corner of the world," according to Hagel.

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