Nirupama Subramanian

  • No "Pressler kind of language" in the proposed law
  • $750 million development aid for tribal areas

    ISLAMABAD: United States Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said here on Wednesday that the Bush Administration was working with both Houses of the U.S. Congress to ensure the continuance of financial and military aid to Pakistan.

    Asked at a press conference if a proposed law adopted by the House of Representatives linking aid to Pakistan to its cooperation in the "war on terror" and Wednesday's "sense of the Senate" resolution on the legislation would lead to withdrawal of aid to Pakistan, Mr. Boucher said it was premature to talk about the legislation as it had still not been adopted by Congress.

    Strong ally

    "But this is not Pressler and we are working with both the U.S. Houses to ensure that there is no aid cut to Pakistan", he said, referring to the 1985 Pressler Amendment banning military assistance to Pakistan.

    Pakistan is a strong U.S. ally against war on terror and would continue to be supported by the Bush administration, he said. The U.S. official said that it was due to reservations expressed by the Bush Administration on the language of the bill adopted in the House of Representatives, that the Senate adopted amendments proposed by Senator John Kerry and a few others.

    The "sense of the Senate" resolution says, "appropriate levels of United States military assistance to Pakistan should be guided by demonstrable progress by the Government of Pakistan" in a number of areas, but there is no specific language on "restrictions".

    He said the amendments ensured that there was no "Pressler kind of language" in the proposed law, "especially in the Senate version."

    The House and the Senate would now put their heads together to finalise the legislation.

    "But I am not very fearful. I am fairly confident that we will not see something from the U.S. Congress that will undermine our relationship," he said. The Bush Administration would provide $750 million to support a development plan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

    The aid would be spread over five years and will be used to promote educational, health and other development in the tribal areas.