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To stem terror in Pakistan, US looks beyond military

Washington is seeking to build the Pakistani state and its economy as a way to wean the country from Islamic extremism.

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SOURCES: Collated by Congressional Research Service (Nov. 10, 2008 report) using data from US Departments of State, Defense, and Agriculture and the US Agency for International Development/Rich Clabau

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In an admission that its dependence on the Pakistani military has yielded few results against the Taliban, the United States is now seeking to change its relationship with Pakistan – the world's sole Muslim nuclear power and home of Al Qaeda's leadership.

President Barack Obama's first budget, released last week, proposes significant increases in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. In addition, two influential senators are expected to file legislation in the coming days that would triple nonmilitary US aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year and include $5 billion to stave off an imminent economic crisis.

The shift is part of an increasing awareness within the Beltway of Pakistan's precarious position – beset by economic collapse, political weakness, and a spreading insurgency – and that more than military operations will be needed to build a stable state capable of beating back Islamic extremism in the long term.

"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," said Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts last week, while releasing a report about Pakistan.

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