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Sen. Levin: U.S. Cannot Force Change In Pakistan

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), head of the Armed Services Committee, says the Obama administration should not link its efforts in Afghanistan too closely with Pakistan.

"The evidence is mixed as to whether or not the government in Pakistan is going to take on the religious extremists," Levin tells NPR's Renee Montagne as part of a series of conversations this week about the administration's strategy for Afghanistan.

"The border, particularly down in the south, between Pakistan and Afghanistan, is wide open now. Extremists are flowing across that border into Afghanistan; Pakistan has not done anything to stop them. Hopefully the Pakistanis will take on those extremists, but if they don't, we [shouldn't] say that Afghanistan can't succeed just because the Pakistanis won't take on the religious extremists," he says.

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Levin does not say he is opposed to providing financial support to Pakistan, but says the funds must be monitored and carefully allocated.

"Any money which goes in to support the Pakistani army or the other parts of their security forces will not work unless they themselves are motivated to take on the Taliban," he says. "As far as the economic aid is concerned, we've provided economic aid before, and if you can show that it will be effective, I'm willing to consider that."

The key to any effort, Levin says, is to ensure that Pakistan is sincere in its efforts to curb violence. "We can't buy their support. It's got to be a Pakistani goal to rid themselves of their own religious fanatics," he says.

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