Rice cites Pakistan’s democratic transition on hill as US lifts aid curbs


Washington : As the United States moved to lift democracy-related law restrictions on US security aid for Pakistan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cited democratic progress in the key South Asian country at a Congressional hearing.

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In a notification to Congress, Secretary Rice determined Wednesday now that a democratically elected government is in place in Pakistan, the US assistance for Pakistan stands immediately resumed.

On the same day, the top American diplomat made a particular mention of Pakistan’s transition to civilian democracy on the Capitol Hill, saying the State Department encouraged democratic process in the country.

Testifying before the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, Rice informed the lawmakers that the US supported with assistance and diplomacy Pakistan’s transition through its landmark parliamentary elections.

Earlier, Rice issued a notification on resumption of security assistance for Pakistan since a law curbing such aid could no longer be in effect after return of full civilian democracy.

Until this year, an annual US presidential waiver of the relevant State Foreign Operations law restriction was required to ensure continued flow of assistance for the country but now this law would no more be applicable on Pakistan.

President George Bush waived the restriction last month to pave the way for $ 300 million security assistance for Pakistan.

“Pursuant to the authority vested in me as Secretary of State – I hereby determine and certify that subsequent to the termination of assistance to the Government of Pakistan after a military coup on October 12, 1999, a democratically elected government has taken office in Pakistan as of March 25, 2008, permitting immediate resumption of assistance.

“I direct that this Determination be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress,” the notification said, according to US Federal Register.