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Kerry: Aid to Pakistan Must Counter Any Exploitation of Extremists

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry toured some of Pakistan's flood-affected areas Thursday and warned the humanitarian response must counter the possibility of extremists exploiting the situation. The visit comes ahead of an expected announcement of increased U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Pakistani and humanitarian authorities say the scope of the country's flooding still is unknown as rains continue to affect seasonal crops, thousands of villages and millions of people.

U.S. Senator John Kerry said the natural disaster is having a huge significance on a struggling democracy, complicating the government's efforts to improve its economy and provide for its people.

He cautioned that extremist elements could take advantage of the situation. "Miles upon miles of destroyed homes, of people dislocated, people in camps in great heat, losing their possessions, growing frustrated, worried about the future," he said. "We need to address that, all of us rapidly, to avoid their impatience boiling over or people exploiting that impatience."

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The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee spoke to reporters outside Islamabad after visiting some of the worst hit areas Thursday.

The United States has provided Pakistan with millions of dollars, as well as helicopters to assist with relief efforts.

Earlier Thursday, the Asian Development Bank announced it would give $3 million for emergency relief to Pakistan and at least $2 billion in recovery efforts during the next two years.

Saudi Arabia announced it was increasing its aid by $80 million, while Japan said it would send helicopters in addition to its more than $14 million in assistance.

United Nations officials say the flooding has left more than four million people homeless in Pakistan, double the previous U.N. estimate.

Manuel Bessler is the head of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan. "We have to scale up. The government has to scale up. We need more funds. We need more capacity on the ground, in order to meet the growing needs and to reach everybody," said Bessler.

As hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid come pouring into Pakistan, some analysts are concerned about possible government corruption or mismanagement.

To alleviate those fears, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced Thursday the creation of the National Oversight Disaster Management Council and tasked it with the responsibly of following the money. "These respectable members of the council will insure that the funds are distributed and utilized in a transparent manner," he said.

Massive flooding due to the country's monsoon rains have inundated parts of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces, killing what the government estimates to be 1,600 people and affecting up to 20 million others.

Flood-Affected Areas