PESHAWAR (AFP) When torrential monsoon rains flooded Pakistan, sparking the countrys worst-ever humanitarian crisis, hardline religious charities moved fast. Faster than the government. Banned in Pakistan and on a UN terror list, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is one of a number of religious organisations that have been highly visible in the battle to help provide relief to millions of survivors. Filling a void created by the perceived failure of the civilian government to mobilise, fears are growing in the United States that such charities are using soft power to propagate extremism in the state. Taliban have now urged the government to reject American aid in favour of 20 million dollars of Taliban aid. There was no indication that the militia can or will pay, but the battle for hearts and minds has been drawn. We are providing food, clothes, medicines, tents, utensils, 5,000 rupees cash to each family, said Atique Chohan, spokesman for JuD in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. So far we have helped 250,000 people, he told AFP at a camp run by JuDs newly set up welfare organisation Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation in the district of Nowshehra, where dozens of bearded volunteers dished out food. Local religious organisations like JuD help more, said 25-year-old taxi driver Ghulam Haider, whose home was swept away in Nowshera. Villages along the motorway from Peshawar to Islamabad are inundated and women are seen wading through knee-high water. The government gave us tents and nothing else. All goods here have been supplied by affluent and ordinary citizens. Were getting help from private organisations, said Jahanas Khan, 50, who was uprooted from his village. The United States has increased its flood aid to 55 million dollars and the United Nations is to launch an international appeal for several hundred million dollars, saying that six million people are depend on help to survive. Anthony Cordesman, who has advised the Obama administration on Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the floods represent a major opportunity for religious groups to win further influence among people denied government services. If we have to deal with a radicalised Pakistan, that raises the threat that is posed by terrorism by several orders of magnitude, said Cordesman, an expert from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Concerned about extremism, Washington is trying to engage more fully with Pakistan, which President Barack Obama has put on the frontline of the war against Al-Qaeda and considers crucial to ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Aid from the United States and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can have a tremendous impact, said Cordesman, but can also go unnoticed by people on the ground, who have no idea where it came from. Ashley Tellis, a south Asia security expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told AFP that it was a recurring pattern. I think they (the military) will eventually show that they can respond, but theyve certainly lost the battle of being seen as the first responder and that is in a sense the most important part of the public relations battle. In a conference call with journalists, Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Islamabad, minimised the influence extremist groups had in providing aid. Back at the JuD camp in Peshawar, civil servant Aurangzeb Khan, 43, dropped money into a transparent glass donation box, half filled with banknotes. I would have given it to the government had it done a good job, he said.