Japan may resume aid next year

ISLAMABAD, May 8: Japan has indicated to resume Pakistan's increased annual assistance from the next financial year. Diplomatic sources said that Pakistan's 400 million dollars annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) by Japan could be increased to 500 million dollars from 2001-2002.

Moreover Japan could also consider extending additional financial support for mitigating the effects of a severe drought the country has been experiencing. Sources said that Japan saw assurances given to finance minister Shaukat Aziz by US Secretary Treasury Paul O'neil last week in Washington as positive developments for the removal of remaining international sanctions against Pakistan.

They said that US Secretary of State Colin Powel's invitation to Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar to visit Washington could lead to removal of sanctions against Pakistan. Nevertheless they said that Pakistan would have to indicate some timeframe to sign the CTBT about which it had already, in principle, taken a decision.

"We hope that the government would soon start taking the politicians into confidence to sign the CTBT," a source said. He added that leaders of major political parties PPP and PML have no inhibitions to sign the treaty especially to get the sanctions lifted.

Japan had suspended new loans and grants except those for humanitarian and emergency purposes and those for grassroots assistance schemes since Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998. Technical assistance is also outside of this measure.

They shoot partypoopers, don't they?