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It's 'Critical' To Understand Instability Risk In Pakistan, Sen. John Kerry Tells NPR

On the heels of a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, acknowledged that the flooding in Pakistan could lead to instability there.

"I think it's critical for all of us to understand that potential, and try to head it off, which means an adequate response to the flood demands," he told NPR's Robert Siegel, adding that "the government is doing everything in its power, but they're going to need help."

We're going to have to buckle down there, and try to avoid what could be an even greater catastrophe.

Traveling with President Asif Ali Zardari, Kerry said he saw many frustrated, angry people, displaced from their homes, stranded outside in hot temperatures, without adequate food and water.

"Obviously, that's ripe for exploitation," he said. "So, it's important for us to take a lot fo measures to preclude that from happening."

Kerry, who has sponsored a major aid bill in the Senate, providing aid to Pakistan, said it is important to acknowledge how much progress the country has made, fighting against corruption.

"There have been improvements, and I think it would be a tragedy upon a tragedy for us to lose a lot of that progress because of what's happened here," he said.

Kerry spent three days with President Hamid Karzai, talking about military strategy and the political situation in Afghanistan.

Today, The Washington Post reported Karzai expressed support for "the independent work of two anti-corruption law enforcement units that had come under political pressure from his office following the arrest of one of his aids last month."

Kerry said that, in a statement he and Karzai co-signed, the president "made it clear that he intends to press forward with that case, and that the major crimes unit will be able to function as an independent entity, free from political influence."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.