| GEO Pakistan|
| US to help flood-hit Pakistan in weeks ahead: Clinton|
| Updated at: 1112 PST, Thursday, August 05, 2010|
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed Wednesday that Washington will help Pakistan, a top ally in the fight against militants, cope with its flood disaster "in the days and weeks ahead."
Clinton promised sustained American aid as the Pakistani government comes under fire over its handling of the devastation and a group believed to be a front for Islamist militants sent its own relief to flood-hit areas.
The United States has already committed 10 million dollars in aid, US helicopters have rescued hundreds of people and delivered "critical supplies, including hundreds of thousands of halal meals," the chief US diplomat said.
"We've sent over boats to help with search and rescue, water purification units to provide clean water for thousands of people, and temporary bridges to replace bridges damaged by the floods," she told reporters.
"This represents just the start of our efforts. We will continue to help Pakistan in the days and weeks ahead," Clinton pledged.
Clinton also urged Americans to make ten-dollar aid contributions by using their cell phones to text the word SWAT to the number 50555.
The funds "will help the UN High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, clean drinking water and medicine to people displaced by floods," she said.
The floods have swamped the Swat Valley, a stronghold of the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda allies. Pakistan launched a major offensive in Swat last year to clear it of Taliban and restore government control.
The US aid effort is part of an international relief campaign after the flooding that has claimed the lives of up to 1,500 people and affected 3.2 million, including 1.4 million children, according to UN and Pakistani figures.
Clinton said "helping each other in times of need" is an essential element of the budding US partnership with Pakistan, in which Washington has earmarked 7.5 billion dollars in development aid over five years.