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US Prepares for Visit by Leader of Pakistan


Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is on a foreign trip that will bring him to Washington Saturday for a meeting with President Bush. Efforts to fight terrorism are expected to be high on the agenda. Mr. Musharraf is hoping to get some benefits for Pakistan's continued cooperation.

Pakistan and the United States are joined in an alliance to root out remnants of the Taleban and al-Qaida as part of the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Christine Fair, a Pakistan analyst at the nonpartisan U.S. Institute for Peace, says Mr. Bush can be expected to urge General Musharraf to greater anti-terror efforts.

"What the U.S. is really hoping to ensure is that Pakistan is going to remain an interested and viable partner of the global war on terrorism," said Ms. Fair. "And we're going to be exploring ways that sort of fortify Pakistan's capability to be this partner in the global war on terror."

But, Hussain Haqqani, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and visiting professor at Boston University, says General Musharraf is a reluctant participant in the anti-terror alliance.

"I think the real cause of concern for the United States is that Pakistan remains an ally of convenience and not an ally of conviction. General Musharraf has repeatedly said, even from the beginning immediately after 9/11, that 'We have no choice, we are doing this for the United States.' Unfortunately, the American administration keeps giving the impression that 'Oh, he's on our side.' He isn't," concluded Mr. Haqqani.

General Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, and this week pushed through legislation allowing him to also remain as chief of the army. But his one-man rule is unpopular in segments of Pakistan, and his anti-terrorism alliance with the United States is deeply disturbing to Islamist religious parties, some of which have a pronounced sympathy for Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Haqqani says General Musharraf has to return home with some tangible benefits to show for the alliance.

"It's a little game that goes on between Pakistan and the U.S., with the U.S. saying, we want you to do this, this, this, and this, and Pakistan saying, well, this is very difficult for us to do, this we can do only partly, here are our problems, and we need you to do this, this, this for us in return - usually economic and military assistance," he said.

Analysts say General Musharraf would dearly love to leave with a U.S. promise to sell some high-tech F-16 warplanes to Pakistan. Mr. Haqqani calls the F-16 issue a "matter of prestige" for the Pakistani leader. In return, they say, the United States can be expected to ask for greater cooperation and sharing of intelligence.

The United States is also anxious to see tensions between India and Pakistan, both of which possess nuclear weapons, further reduced and would like to see the long-simmering dispute over Kashmir settled.

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