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Report warns Pakistan in trouble

A growing al-Qaida-backed insurgency, combined with the Pakistani army's reluctance to launch an all-out crackdown, political infighting, and energy and food shortages are plunging America's key ally in the war on terrorism deeper into turmoil and violence, says a soon-to-be completed U.S. intelligence assessment.

A U.S. official who participated in drafting the top-secret National Intelligence Estimate said it portrays the situation in Pakistan as “very bad.” The official summarized the estimate's conclusions about the state of Pakistan as: “no money, no energy, no government.”

Six U.S. officials who helped draft or are aware of the document's findings confirmed them to McClatchy Newspapers on the condition of anonymity because NIEs are top secret and are restricted to the president, senior officials and members of Congress. An NIE's conclusions reflect the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

The NIE on Pakistan, along with others being prepared on Afghanistan and Iraq, will underpin a “strategic assessment” of the situation that Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is about to take command of all U.S. forces in the region, has requested. The aim of the assessment – seven years after the U.S. sent troops into Afghanistan – is to determine whether a U.S. presence in the region can be effective and if so what U.S. strategy should be.

The findings also are intended to support the Bush administration's effort to recommend the resources the next president will need for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Together, the three NIEs suggest that without significant and swift progress on all three fronts the U.S. could find itself facing a growing threat from al-Qaida and other Islamic extremist groups, said one of the officials.

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