Pakistan, U.S. fear insurgents may exploit devastating floods

16:35, August 20, 2010      

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Militants may take advantage of the worst floods in Pakistan in 80 years to increase their weight, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and a veteran U.S. senator have warned.

President Zardari and John Kerry, Democratic chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited flood-hit regions Thursday, where they saw numerous desperate and grumbling victims.

The floods over the past three weeks have killed over 2,000 people, affected 20 million and made some 4 million homeless. About one-fifth of Pakistan's surface area is under water. The floods have ruined crops over nearly 650,000 hectares of land, destroying the mainstay agriculture industry.

Pakistan, with a population of 167 million, has appealed for more urgent humanitarian aid from the international community.

At a press conference with Kerry after the visit, Zardari said, "There is a possibility that some, the negative forces, would exploit this situation, in this time of need."

"They would take babies who become orphans and then put them in their own camps, train them as the terrorists of tomorrow," he added.

Turbulence-weary Pakistan has gained ground in its offensives against Taliban militants over the past few months, but the development is endangered by the recent floods.

Pakistan, a neighbor of Afghanistan, is an important ally of the United States in its anti-terror war. As tens of thousands of U.S. troops are hunting down Taliban rebels in Afghanistan, Pakistan's stability is in the U.S. interests.

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