Pakistan says US conditions on aid will strain cooperation


Islamabad : New US conditions for continued aid to Pakistan for its counter-terrorism initiatives are "disappointing," the ministry of foreign affairs said Sunday.

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The US Congress adopted Friday a bill that linked aid to Pakistan to its achievements in quelling terrorism, strengthening democracy and maintaining the writ of the government in its territory.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam in her weekend statement said such a linkage cast a shadow on the existing cooperation between Pakistan and the US and could prove to be detrimental in the future.

The White House reportedly said Saturday that US President George W. Bush would sign the bill into law.

"Pakistan is fighting extremism and terrorism in its own national interest and in the pursuit of our vision of an economically vibrant, socially advanced and politically stable society," Aslam said.

Aslam asserted that Pakistan would continue to fight Al Qaeda, Talibanization and other terrorist and extremist elements with resolve and determination.

However, she said: "We expect understanding and support from our friends in the international community instead of pronouncements and impositions that doubt our efforts and will be resented by our people."

Islamabad has been under mounting pressure from the US and other coalition partners to do more to eliminate Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, who are thought to have found safe havens in Pakistan's north-west tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

International forces and the Afghan army claim that the fighters have established command centres and training facilities in the rugged region, and they regularly launch attacks after crossing the border where Pakistan had deployed around 80,000 troops.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf insists the insurgency in Afghanistan stems from internal strife and its solution also lies inside that war-torn country.