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Rep. Jim Marshall leads delegation to Afghanistan
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U.S. Representative Jim Marshall, who recently led a Congressional Delegation trip to the Middle East including visits to both Afghanistan and Pakistan, had the following to say about his recent visit to both countries:

"I support our current strategy. We’ve made remarkable progress. But this is still a very tough fight. We may see a rising number of casualties, which I believe will taper off as we make further progress. It’s clear to me that Afghans want to be free of Taliban influence. In much of the country, there just hasn’t been a reasonable security alternative they can turn to. The approach we’re taking is both a top-down and a bottom-up strategy, and the bottom-up part of the strategy in villages and rural areas is what we’ve lacked in the past."

"Our special forces troops deployed on the front lines and in local villages are upbeat. Everyone of them that I spoke with frankly said they wanted to stick around rather than rotate home. They believe this is a critical fight and they think we can connect the population with the government rather than the Taliban. If that happens, Al Qaeda will quickly be defeated."

"Pakistan is truly at risk of destabilization due to this horrendous flooding. Thus far, the deaths have been held to a minimum. But it’s clear that the death toll will rise unless immediate action to provide adequate food, shelter, and clean water to the victims of this flood."

"This is an almost unbelievable task. Pakistan’s government doesn’t have close to the capacity. There are more than 20 million people displaced — more than 3 million entire families. To give a sense of the scale, infrastructure has been destroyed over an area the size of the east coast of the USA. They are going to need large-scale assistance."

"This is going to affect Pakistan’s ability to help the US in addressing terrorist safe havens adjacent to Afghanistan within Pakistan. That makes the task in Afghanistan more difficult and timely humanitarian assistance to Pakistan more critical because as a failed state, Pakistan becomes a threat to the whole world. It has nuclear weapons and nuclear technology. The flood in Pakistan presents a real problem not only to those immediately affected, but potentially to the entire globe."