After quick visits this week to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., says he's troubled about deteriorating conditions in both countries.
In Afghanistan, any continued stalling of economic redevelopment efforts could "put our mission at risk," Walz said during a fact-finding trip. "I'm concerned Afghanistan isn't stabilizing as quickly as it should."
In Pakistan, Islamic militants threaten to destabilize the country, and pressure by the United States on the Pakistani government to act in the frontier regions "risks losing their public support."
During a conference call with reporters, the first-term congressman from the First District said the fact of a nuclear-armed Pakistan "obviously makes me nervous." But Walz said he was reassured by officials responsible for that arsenal that "they take the security of their nuclear weapons very seriously."
In a similar vein, Pakistan's religious affairs officials said they would take steps to rein in the madrassas, the private schools where militant Islam is taught, Walz said.
The solution in Afghanistan isn't more American ground troops, but ramping up the number of State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development personnel, Walz said.
In addition, he said, NATO allies who have pledged development aid to Afghanistan have to do more.
"Promises made by NATO are not all being kept," Walz said. "We need that and to get more development teams in there."
BOB VON STERNBERG