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Pakistan Boosts Defense Spending To Fight Taliban


Pakistan's fight against Taliban insurgents is proving to be costly in economic terms. Officials Saturday unveiled the country's budget for the upcoming fiscal year and said defense spending will jump by more than 15 percent for the 12 months staring July 1.

State Minister for Finance Hina Rabbani Khar says the more than $4 billion increase is needed to help fund the government's offensive against the Taliban in the northwestern Swat Valley, including a pay raise for soldiers.

She also says the increased spending will help cover the costs of more than almost three million Pakistanis forced to abandon their homes because of the fighting.

Khar says Pakistan's war against terrorists has already cost the country $35 billion.

Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a request for an additional $700 million in aid to help Pakistani security forces fight Islamic extremists.

The House also approved tripling non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year over the next five years.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also appealed for more international humanitarian aid for the millions of displaced Pakistani civilians.

Mr. Ban said the U.N. has received roughly a quarter of its $543 million appeal and warned Pakistan was at risk of a "spiraling secondary crisis."

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