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US Pledges Additional $200 Million in Aid to Pakistan


U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said the Obama administration is standing beside Pakistan in its fight to defeat Islamic extremists. During a visit to Islamabad, Holbrooke said the United States has pledged an additional $200 million to assist Pakistanis displaced by a military offensive against Taliban militants.

Shortly after landing in Pakistan, Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke stood next to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in front of the press and made clear the U.S. commitment to Pakistan's efforts to fight terrorism.

"Our delegation has come at very short notice at the personal instructions of President Obama. He sent our team to Pakistan - first to show our concern to the people of Pakistan, and to the world our concern for the internal refugees, now numbering the millions who are adding to the burdens of an already burdened nations," Holbrooke said.

Holbrooke said his mission is to see for himself, the conditions of Pakistanis displaced by the war and report back to President Obama to see what additional assistance the United States can give to Pakistan.

To that end, Holbrooke announced the Obama administration is asking the U.S. congress for $200 million in humanitarian aid.

That request is in addition to the $110 million already pledged to help feed, shelter, and protect an estimated two million people displaced by the Pakistani military offensive against Taliban militants in northwestern Swat Valley.

Holbrooke also urged the international community to join in and do more to help create a democratic and secure Pakistan.

"I must say in all frankness, I think other countries can and should do more. I think the European Union and other countries, all of whom have a common interest in a stable and peaceful and democratic Pakistan, should join the United States and give more to Pakistan at this time," he said.
Holbrooke also congratulated the Pakistani army for its recent success in the Swat Valley.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also praised the army for clearing militants from key towns in Swat. But he warned there is much more work to be done.

"I think to say the war is won is too soon. We have a war of ideology to fight. We have a war, we have the hearts and minds to win. Once we've won the hearts and minds of the region, then I will say we have progressed," said President Zardari.

On Thursday, Holbrooke and a delegation of U.S. officials will travel to a camp for internally displaced persons in the northwest, where he said he will talk to those affected by the month long war to eject the Taliban.

The Obama administration considers Pakistan key to its strategy to fight a violent Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. But tensions remain between the United States and Pakistan, particularly over Mr. Obama's decision to continue firing missiles from unmanned aircraft at suspected al-Qaida bases in Pakistan's tribal regions, near the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly said such attacks kill mostly civilians and only serve as a recruitment tool for Islamic militants.
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