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United States reviews Pakistan aid

Secretary of State Rice doubts it will be suspended. Bush may comment on the crisis today.

Associated Press
Published November 5, 2007


JERUSALEM - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the United States will review aid to Pakistan and denied that the Bush administration has "put all its chips" on Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

On a Mideast trip now overshadowed by the unfolding crisis in nuclear-armed Pakistan, Rice indicated the United States would not suspend aid wholesale.

The United States has provided about $11-billion to Pakistan since 2001, when Musharraf allied his presidency with Washington after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Some of the aid that goes to Pakistan is directly related to the counterterrorism mission," Rice said. "We just have to review the situation. But I would be very surprised if anyone wants the president to ignore or set aside our concerns about terrorism."

President Bush, who has received steady updates on developments in Pakistan, is likely to make his first public comments today. He had not spoken directly with Musharraf as of Sunday afternoon, said national security adviser Gordon Johndroe.

"We're obviously not going to do anything that will undermine the war on terror. That's not in our best interests," Johndroe said.

Rice said she had not spoken directly with Musharraf since his announcement Saturday to suspend the constitution, oust the top judge and deploy troops to fight what he called rising Islamic extremism. She has decried those "extraconstitutional" moves.

"I'm disappointed in his decision, sure," Rice said. "I think his decision sets Pakistan back in the considerable progress it made toward democratic change."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies reported in August that less than 10 percent of the U.S. aid since 2001 has gone to economic and social projects.

Rice cited such assistance, particularly for education, when she said that the United States has looked beyond Musharraf and made a choice to support what had seemed to be an increasingly democratic nation at a critical time.

Britain also is weighing whether to reconsider the substantial aid it has pledged to the South Asian nation.

In Pakistan, the government orchestrated a nationwide crackdown Sunday on the political opposition, the news media and the courts.

Police throughout the country raided the homes of opposition party leaders and activists, arresting at least 500 people. Top lawyers were also taken into custody, and 70 activists were detained at the offices of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Lahore. Police confiscated the equipment of journalists covering the raid and ordered them to leave the premises. All independent television news stations remained off the air for a second day.

Musharraf's government said parliamentary elections could be delayed up to a year as it tries to stamp out a growing Islamic militant threat.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

[Last modified November 5, 2007, 01:11:25]

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