The United States and Britain have threatened to review the multi-million dollar aid the two countries provide to Pakistan following Gen Pervez Musharraf's decision to impose emergency in the country.
The fate of the aid is expected to be decided at a meeting between Musharraf and a group of ambassadors on Monday. In the last three years, British civilian aid to Pakistan has totalled 480 million pounds, while US aid since 2001 has amounted to 5.5 billion pounds.
US and Britain are expected to demand at the meeting that as committed by Musharraf in conversations with western leaders hours before emergency was declared, elections should be held as scheduled in January. Failure to reiterate the commitment may jeopardise aid.
The announcement by Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz that elections could be delayed by a year is likely to harden postures in London and Washington. Leaders such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown felt snubbed when Musharraf imposed emergency when, just 48 hours earlier on Nov 1, he had told Brown that no such move was planned.
Foreign Office sources told the media that Foreign Secretary David Miliband tried to contact Islamabad to clarify the situation on Saturday, but his calls were not answered. The US and Britain are expected to have a coordinated approach to continuing aid.
During the telephone conversation between Brown and Musharraf on Nov 1, Brown reportedly expressed concern at reports about the likelihood of an emergency. This, however, was sought to be dispelled by Musharraf, who reiterated his commitment to elections in January.
A British official told the Guardian: "He [Brown] said we had heard he was considering this (imposing emergency) and we thought it was a bad idea...What we will make very clear is that the government must keep to the commitment to hold elections on time, the commitment to take off the uniform, the commitment to a free press, the commitment to reach out to other parties, and the commitment to release political prisoners."
"How they respond to that will determine our reaction thereafter."
The Foreign Office denied claims reportedly made in Islamabad that Britain had sanctioned the declaration of emergency.