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Musharraf: Pakistani-US Relations Will Continue to Improve - 2003-06-25


In just a few years, Pakistan has gone from international pariah to a close U.S. ally in the global war against terrorism. Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf detailed Islamabad's willingness to cooperate with Washington during his fourth visit to the United States since September 11, 2001.

In his introductory comments before Pakistani President Musharraf's speech in Washington Wednesday, Richard Solomon, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, spoke highly of that country's relations with the United States.

"Pakistan has become an indispensable ally of our country in the new global war, the war on terrorism," he said.

These glowing comments come one day after President Bush called the Pakistani leader courageous, as the two men stood side-by side at the Camp David presidential retreat outside of Washington.

In his speech discussing the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations, President Musharraf pointed out that Islamabad's ties with Washington were not always so rosy, especially when he took power in a coup in 1999.

"The national economy was in a state of bankruptcy and diplomatically, the country was totally isolated. The nation stood at the brink of being declared a failed state, or a terrorist state," he said.

Since September 11, though, the Pakistani leader said his country has worked hard to root out terrorism and has contributed significantly to making the al-Qaida terrorist network "a shadow of its past."

He acknowledged, though, that not all Pakistanis support closer relations with the United States. "I will frankly admit there are many misgivings in Pakistan about both the justification and the utility of our cooperation with the United States," he said.

But despite misgivings back home, the Pakistani President said he feels relations between the two countries are moving toward a new level of friendship and cooperation.

"In view of my talks with President Bush and his team, I am confident that the United States and Pakistan are moving toward a long-term, predictable relationship, and that skeptics in both countries wil have reason to review their reservations," he said.

On Tuesday, President Bush announced a $3 billion aid package for Pakistan. Although one-half of the aid will go to the Pakistani military, it will not include F-16 warplanes Islamabad had requested.

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