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US Congress may delay Fata zones legislation

Dawn | 26 October 2007

US Congress may delay Fata zones legislation

By Mubarak Zeb Khan

ISLAMABAD, Oct 25: The United States Congress is likely to put on hold for several months, possibly a year, legislation for setting up reconstruction opportunity zones (ROZs) in tribal areas and finalisation of a bilateral investment treaty till a new democratic set-up comes into power in Pakistan, Dawn has learnt.

US officials had earlier conveyed three possible dates to the Pakistani authorities for the passage of the legislation on ROZs, January 2007, May 2007 and October 2007, but little has been done so far in this regard.

According to an official source, the government has almost lost hope about early approval of the legislation by the US Congress or an accord on the remaining clauses of the investment treaty.

During his visit to Pakistan last year, US President George Bush had accepted Pakistan’s proposal on ROZs and announced that the zones would be set up in the economically deprived pro-Taliban areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Goods produced in these zones would get duty-free access to the US market.

An official source in the finance ministry told Dawn that the issues were to be discussed with the US authorities during the ongoing economic dialogue in Washington.

A diplomatic source told Dawn that the US Congress had called upon the government of Pakistan to hold fair and transparent elections and restore democracy and this could now be linked to the approval of the ROZs law.

The source was of the opinion that the US might pressurise the caretaker government to agree to its stance on the five controversial clauses of the BIT which have been delaying the finalisation of the agreement for at least one year.

 source: Dawn