White House Expresses Confidence Over Pakistan Aid

Associated Press
Friday, December 21, 2007

The Bush administration said yesterday it is confident that new restrictions set by lawmakers on $50 million in military aid to Pakistan will not prevent it from providing the money.

Congress on Wednesday authorized $300 million in aid to Pakistan but restricted part of the money out of concern that the country is backsliding on anti-terrorism efforts and democratic policy revisions.

Most of the money, $250 million, is pinned to efforts to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The remaining $50 million can be used only after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certifies to Congress that Pakistan is making "concerted efforts" to prevent terrorists and the Taliban from operating inside its borders.

Rice also must guarantee Pakistan is implementing democratic policies, including releasing political prisoners and restoring an independent judiciary system.

But Richard A. Boucher, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, said he had little doubt that the administration would get the money. "We are confident that we will be able to report to Congress on the developments in the areas that they have identified," he said.

The bill also makes clear that none of the money can be used for cash transfer assistance to Pakistan, a stipulation that matches a Bush administration policy.

The provisions were part of a $555 billion spending bill Congress passed Wednesday that will pay for most of the federal government's 2008 budget. The bill includes $35 billion overall for the State Department and foreign aid programs.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.

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