U.S. sends emergency aid to Pakistan
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The United States is rushing emergency aid to Pakistan — an initial $5 million — to help people uprooted by the fighting against extremists, according to the State Department.
Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke criticized Bush for committing a “pathetic” amount of money to Pakistan.
The United States urged the Pakistanis to launch the military action that in recent days drove hundreds of thousands of people from their villages.
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took a longer-term view Tuesday and discussed how the United States might triple aid to Pakistan over the next five years.
The State Department said Tuesday the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan and officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development are evaluating the needs of civilians fleeing the Swat valley and surrounding regions in northwest Pakistan.
“We are of course very concerned about the well-being of civilians who are fleeing the fighting in the area,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said. “And we have personnel, USAID personnel, on the ground in Pakistan, not in the Swat valley, but in Pakistan, who are directing assistance to help them.”
Kelly said the $5 million was just an initial payment.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, praised the new military offensive by the Pakistan military.
“In recent days we have seen encouraging signs that Pakistan’s army is finally taking the fight to enemy, but much remains to be done,” Kerry said in his opening to a hearing on Pakistan and Afghanistan.