Dutch govt. freezes aid to Pak

Dutch govt. freezes aid to Pak


Amsterdam: The Dutch government froze development aid to Pakistan on Monday in response to President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to impose emergency rule, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The move was intended to pressure Musharraf to restore democratic and constitutional processes and to confirm Pakistan’s intentions to go ahead with parliamentary elections in January, spokesman Francesco Mascini said. Musharraf’s government said that parliamentary elections could be delayed up to a year.

Deputy Minister for Development Bert Koenders has decided to suspend the remainder of $22 million that had yet to be paid this year. Most of the funds already have been transferred.

Mascini said the Netherlands would also freeze $58 million in aid it planned to give Pakistan next year mostly for educational and environmental purposes.

Musharraf’s suspension of the constitution last week has aroused angry reactions across the globe, but the Dutch government was the first to announce a suspension of aid.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had implored Musharraf not to suspend the constitution, said the U.S. government was reviewing billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.

But most U.S. aid to Pakistan goes toward military support and the U.S. counts on Pakistan to help fight al-Qaida and provide intelligence.

“We’re obviously not going to do anything that will undermine the war on terror," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for U.S. President George W. Bush.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesman said the country was reviewing the implications of Musharraf’s moves for its development and assistance programs.

The U.K. Department for International Development is committed to providing $493 million in aid to Pakistan over three years.

Dutch NOS news cited Koenders as saying Musharraf’s steps were a “dramatic power grab that’s bad for democracy, the people and the development of Pakistan."