A top State Department official said Pakistan probably will be able to meet new conditions imposed by Congress to keep receiving U.S. military aid.
Lawmakers yesterday withheld $50 million of the Bush administration's $300 million aid request for Pakistan and required the administration to report that the country is fighting terrorism and respecting democratic rights before the money is released.
The department will probably be able to tell Congress that those conditions have been fulfilled, said Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs.
"We're confident that we'll be able to report to Congress on developments in the areas that they've identified," he said yesterday during a conference call with reporters.
Boucher said Pakistan's parliamentary elections, scheduled for next month, can be held freely and fairly, even though the country was under emergency rule from Nov. 3 until Dec. 15.
Under emergency rule, President Pervez Musharraf jailed opposition supporters, restricted the news media, and replaced Supreme Court justices with pliant appointees.
"Lifting of the emergency was a big step, removing a heavy burden that had been placed on the election period," Boucher said.
Boucher said the money in question would pay for military equipment used by the Pakistani armed forces to combat terrorists and Islamic extremists. The equipment includes missiles, tactical radios, and P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft manufactured by Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp.
Congress imposed the reporting requirements on the $50 million in an appropriations measure approved this week.
The legislation requires the Bush administration to report that Musharraf is making efforts to combat terrorism and toward greater democracy, including holding "inclusive democratic" elections; restoring an independent judiciary; releasing political detainees and ending harassment of critics.