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U.S. Offers Aid to Pakistan Amid Refugee Crisis

As many as two million Pakistanis have fled the fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani army, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday pledged $110 million in humanitarian aid to the region. Washington Post reporter Pamela Constable updates the situation.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight, our Pakistan update.

    Nearly 2 million refugees have fled the fighting as the Pakistan army tries to roll back the Taliban from the Swat Valley.

    At the White House today, Secretary of State Clinton said the U.S. would offer Pakistan $110 million in aid. She said the U.S. needed to stand firmly with Pakistan.

    HILLARY CLINTON, secretary of State: The humanitarian relief is the right thing to do, no matter what the politics. I mean, people are in need. They're having to leave their homes and their possessions. We hope that they'll be able to return home quickly if the military not only clears the Taliban from their communities, but also holds that ground, with a combination of military and policing forces.

    But this is a tough battle. And I don't think anybody should underestimate how difficult it is for the Pakistani military to wage this battle in very challenging terrain. I mean, I don't know how many of you have either flown over or visited that terrain, but this is hard.

    And that's why what the Pakistanis are doing now deserves our full support. They're doing it. And we're encouraging them to do it because we think it's in their interests, but we also believe it's in the interests of our long-term struggle against extremism and, in particular, the al-Qaida network.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Margaret Warner takes the story from there.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    And with me is Pamela Constable, Washington Post bureau chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan. She has just returned from a reporting and photographing trip to several refugee camps near the city of Mardan.

    And, Pam, welcome back.

  • PAMELA CONSTABLE, Washington Post:

    Thank you very much.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    It must feel good to be home.

  • PAMELA CONSTABLE:

    It does.