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
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
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 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
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.