The Post : Conditional US aid to serve no purpose: FO

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Conditional US aid to serve no purpose: FO

Says Karzai to visit Pakistan next week
C’wealth will review decision after polls
Rauf was discussed with UK in past but both countries have no extradition treaty

Iqbal Choudhry | December 20, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday said the US budget approval by the House of Representatives and conditions attached to assistance to Pakistan would serve no purpose.

"It is not the end of the matter as there are many other steps to be taken before the finalisation of the budget and Pakistan will continue its engagement with US," Muhammad Sadiq Foreign Office Spokesman while addressing the weekly briefing said.

The US House of Representatives on Monday night passed a bill putting tough conditions on the provision of military aid to Pakistan, unless the State Department issues certificates that Islamabad was fighting Al-Qaeda, stopping the Taliban and implementing democratic reforms, which significantly include restoration of an independent judiciary, end to harassment of the media and journalists, human rights activists and release of all political detainees.

Pakistan also said that Commonwealth took the decision about the suspension of Pakistan's membership in haste and it will review after election on January 8, 2008.

"Commonwealth took decision in haste. Sri Lanka publicly announced its disassociation with the decision. CMAG did not consider ground realities of Pakistan like restoration of democracy and constitution," the FO said. To a question about the request of Commonwealth observers for covering general elections, he said that they have applied for a visa and the procedure would take time and final decision is still pending in this regard.

Responding to a terrorism-related query, he said that Pakistani forces are fully capable to take any action against terrorists inside the country.

"We will not allow any country to act in Pakistani territory against extremism," he said.

When his attention was drawn to a statement of the Indian National Security advisor, the spokesman rejected it and said Pakistan is not involved in any kind of terrorism or extremism in India and it will not allow its territory to be used for that purpose.

When asked whether UK envoy formally contacted with Foreign Office regarding Rashid Rauf issue, he rejected the impression and said UK authorities are in touch with Interior Ministry. "The initial investigation report by the Ministry of Interior was about to be released and it will be shared with the British government," he said. The spokesman said the High Commissioner of UK visited the Foreign Office on Wednesday but it was not related to Rashid Rauf case. The matter of Rashid Rauf was being discussed with UK in past but both the countries don't have extradition treaty, he said.

While reading out the opening statement, the spokesman informed that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will arrive Islamabad on December 26 for a two-day goodwill visit and talks on expanding multifaceted relations between the two countries and enhancing cooperation against terrorism and extremism.

"The visit, an expression of solidarity with Pakistan, is in response to the invitation extended by President Pervez Musharraf and the meetings are expected to focus the bilateral relations, reconstruction in Afghanistan," Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said.

President Karzai will be the second head of state to visit Pakistan after Turkish President Abdullah Gul since the re-election of President Musharraf for a second term, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said President Musharraf extended the invitation to Afghan President when he went to Afghanistan in August 2007 to address the concluding session of Pak-Afghan grand jirga.

He said frequent exchange of visits between the leadership of the two brotherly countries is a hallmark of Pak-Afghan relations.

The spokesman said during his visit President Karzai will meet President Musharraf and Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro.

During the meetings, regional and international situation, war against terrorism and efforts to maintain peace in the region will also be discussed, he said.

The President and Prime Minister will also hold a banquet and a luncheon respectively for the visiting dignitary.