Home > News > Report
Bush mollycoddles Musharraf
Aziz Haniffa in New York |
September 22, 2004 22:50 IST
It was all bonhomie, firm handshakes, hugs and backslapping when US President George W Bush hosted his favourite dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, whom the former is counting on to deliver Osama bin Laden on a platter, for an hour-long breakfast meeting on Wednesday at his presidential suite at the Waldorf Astoria. The meeting came a day after Bush extended a similar gesture to India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
There was neither any mention of India's concerns over cross-border terrorism, which were conveyed by the Indian PM to President Bush, nor any questions about the Pakistani leader's decision to retain his military role or the statements given to the New York Times comparing himself with former French leader, the late president Charles de Gaulle.
Musharraf's assurances that cross-border terrorism into India had stopped and that democracy was returning to Pakistan was accepted at face value and Bush was effusive in his praise for Musharraf and Pakistan's continued role as a front-line ally in the US-led war against terrorism.
The US president also lauded Musharraf for his efforts to normalize relations with India. Bush said his administration encouraged these efforts, noting that the Pakistani leader's meeting with the Indian Prime Minister on September 24 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly would be a catalyst for the ongoing peace efforts.
Bush didn't just shower the Pakistani leader with praise, he also promised him that the US economic and military largesse would continue to flow to Pakistan and offered the Pakistan president any assistance he needed to fight the Al Qaeda and the resurgent Taliban.
Neither did Bush ask Musharraf where the A Q Khan nuclear scam probe was leading, nor did he call for the information to be shared with Washington. He only noted with satisfaction Pakistan's 'cooperation to stop the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction', and the commitment by both countries 'to sustain full efforts towards this end'.
The statement said that Bush 'noted the significant economic progress that Pakistan has made in recent years, and reaffirmed US support for Pakistan's efforts to sustain reform and growth. He reiterated the US Administration's pledge of $3 billion over five years to help in important areas such as security and the social sector'.
The US president also thanked Musharraf 'for his efforts in supporting out-of-country voting in Pakistan', in the elections in Afghanistan, even as both leaders 'discussed the importance of building security and prosperity in the region', and the importance of 'maintaining a safe environment for fair elections in Afghanistan'.
Satisfaction was expressed by both leaders that the Pakistan-US Joint Trade and Investment Council set up under the 2003 Trade and Investment Framework was up and running and would meet later this month. They reiterated their commitment to further expand bilateral trade and investment.
"The two leaders also welcomed the growing cooperation in the area of science and technology under the umbrella agreement signed in June 2003," the statement added.
As expected, it spoke of Musharraf's reiteration of 'his commitment to democracy and his intent to strengthen the country's democratic institutions and bring sustainable democracy in Pakistan'.
And if the Bush hadn't made his support for Musharraf clear enough, the statement ended with 'President Bush once again emphasized the long-term US commitment to Pakistan and to the region'.
The joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said both leaders had 'reaffirmed their commitment to broaden and strengthen the Pakistan-US relationship in keeping with the vision agreed to in their meeting at Camp David in June last year'.
It said the two presidents 'reviewed progress in the global war on terror, and pledged to continue working together, ensuring that the appropriate resources are available', and that Bush 'expressed appreciation for Pakistan's efforts in this area'.
They also welcomed the progress of the Joint Working Group on Terrorism and Law Enforcement and agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in this regard.