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PROFILE M. ABDUL WAHAB
COLUMN FOR THE RECORD
SOCIETY 1- JAIL COMPUTERIZATION
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POLITICS & POLICY  PRESIDENT'S 4-NATION VISIT
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PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF'S 4-NATION VISIT

It will help to further deepen and broaden bilateral relations

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, 
Islamabad
June 23 - 29, 2003
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President General Pervez Musharraf has embarked on over a two week-long four nations visit with lot of hopes and expectations. Perhaps it will be the longest absence of any head of the state from the country especially when it is faced with a political turmoil internally.

Pakistan is rightly expecting for a deserving reward for standing with the US-led international community on a variety of issues particularly the fight against international terrorism.

The high point of President's politically crucial trip will be his meeting with President George W. Bush at Camp David, a place where the American President invites only special guests to accord them special but informal protocol and attention. There, Musharraf will be engaged in daylong discussions with Bush, who will be joined by his principal cabinet members.

At home, the combined oppositions has heightened political temperature and consistently tried to mar his visit painting him as a political controversial head of state. But the ruling coalition, befitting the presidential support to it, has given Musharraf a warm sendoff by passing a special resolution in the National Assembly, reposing confidence in his leadership and wishing him all success during his foreign visit to the United State, Britain, France and Germany.

According to a handout of the Foreign Office, during his four-nation visit, President Musharraf's meetings with the leaders of these countries will help to further deepen and broaden bilateral relations, particularly in the economic sphere. The president will seek further expansion in economic relations and greater market access for Pakistani products. He will also meet the business leaders and investors in these countries. The discussions will focus on the regional situation with reference to the latest peace initiatives and the resumption of talks between Pakistan and India on all outstanding issues including the Kashmir dispute.

US and the European countries share Pakistan's view that all the differences between Pakistan and India, including the core issue of Kashmir should be resolved through a meaningful and sustained dialogue process. Views will also be exchange on international issues.

The President will visit the United Kingdom from 20-17 June, the United States from June 20-29, Germany from June 30 to July 02 and France from July 02-04.

In the UK, the President will hold talks will Prime Minister Tony Blair and meet senior members of the British Cabinet and Parliament, engagements with media and Pakistani community and address at the Royal College of Defence.

In the United States, President Bush will receive President Musharraf at Camp David on June 24. The programme at Camp David includes talks and a joint press conference. President and Mrs. Laura Bush will host lunch for President Musharraf and the first Lady. In Washington, the President will meet Vice President Chency who will host a lunch in his honour. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary Treasury John Snow will call on the President. The President of the World Bank will also call on the President.

President Musharraf will address the US Chamber of Commerce, interaction with members of Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, think tank and the media and formal inauguration of the new Chancery Building.

President will also visit Los Angeles where he will attend an Information Technology round-table, meet think tanks and members of the Pakistani community.

In Germany, the President will meet President Ran and hold talks with Chancellor Schroeder. He will meet the members of German Parliament as well.

 

 

Pakistani officials who are awarding grand importance to Musharraf-Bush meeting at Camp David where US President meets select guests, say the visit would also lay the foundation for a long-term strategy relationship between the two countries unblocking the supply of military equipment. The financial assistance will be a five year long arrangement carrying a blend of grants, credit, soft loans for defence sector an commodities purchases. The package may range between 4 to 5 billion. However, a senior Fiannce Ministry officials claimed Islamabad was trying to secure a better deal following the Centcom's claim that war on Afghanistan had caused a colossal loss of $10 billion to Pakistan's economy. Now the package might be around $6.5 billion, the Finance Ministry officials said.

Encouraging reports are pouring in specially from the United States, that President Musharraf will receive a warm reception in the US and its leaders are working on a real package for Pakistan to reward it for its role and service in war against terrorism. According to a report by a national daily from the its New York correspondent, it is for the first time after more than a decade's intercession Pakistan-US relations are picking up as both the countries are likely to sign a five years economic and aid package worth billions of dollars. Hectic preparations are afoot between the US administration officials and the Pakistan embassy in the US to make this visit a big success. President Musharraf's official visit will begin from June 23 with his meetings in Washington.

The net amount of this five years aid and economic package is yet to be known. However, sources said this will be a "substantial" aid and economic package. The US administration in its new phase of relationship with Pakistan that brought the two countries closer in the fight against international terrorism after September 11, 2001 tragedy, have earlier been working with Pakistan on yearly basis. Signing a five years aid package signifies an important shift in US administration policy towards Pakistan. The administration is presumed to be looking forward for long standing relationship with Government of Pakistan.

President Musharraf during his visits will sign a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) which will be a prelude to a Free Trade Agreement, it is said, will give a required edge to Pakistan producers and exporters to make their inroads in one of the largest markets of the world.