The United States sends billions of dollars to bolster Pakistan's military, and two senators say the U.S. should be doing more to build schools, health clinics and other civilian projects.
Last week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, a bipartisan bill that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years.
Their analysis of Pakistan shows that there can be bipartisan agreement in Washington.
President Obama favors sending the money, though this week lawmakers in both parties asked if Pakistan's leaders would simply steal it.
Lugar said he understands their concern. He told NPR's Steve Inskeep, "There is a gamble, in a way."
But, he pointed out, "It's an investment, so that we will have somebody in Pakistan not only who likes the United States, but who is prepared to work with us, whoever the leadership may be in the next five years."
Kerry asked rhetorically, "What is the option? The option if you decide not to do anything is to just turn it over to the Taliban, to abandon the government."
And he noted, "It's just an unbelievably damaging message to huge parts of the world, so our struggle here is to help a fledgling democracy be able to try to develop. That is a messy business. It has never not been messy."
The senators said they cannot guarantee success of the policy, but they feel it is crucial that the United States acts to continue to strengthen its relationship with Pakistan.