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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 08:21 GMT
US praises Musharraf's stance
President Musharraf meets US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Warm words from Colin Powell for Pakistan's president
Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, has pledged to continue fighting against extremism and also push political and economic reforms in his country.

The president was speaking at the end of a successful visit to the United States in which Pakistan was promised $220m to help trim its debt burden.


I am overwhelmed by the support that I've been given

General Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf was hailed by the US Congress as the leader of a "new Pakistan" and described by US Secretary of State Colin Powell as a "courageous leader".

Correspondents say the visit marks the transition of the general from an international pariah to a legitimate ruler and a US ally.

Strong support

General Musharraf is going home with financial aid which the Americans say will allow him to wipe out $1bn worth of debt - a third of Pakistan's debt burden.

Despite failing to receive trade benefits and advanced F-16 fighter aircraft - deals which the general had hoped to win - he said he was very satisfied with the visit.

"I am overwhelmed by the support that I've been given at the Hill by each and every individual. I look forward to support from the Hill on all issues concerning Pakistan," he said.

Islamic students in Pakistan where some schools are perceived as encouraging militancy
Musharraf has pledged to crack down on extremists
He said the US backing would help him work to make Pakistan a tolerant, moderate Islamic state.

"As I sit here the eyes of all Pakistanis... and our entire regions are focused on the physical manifestation of support that the United States is giving to Pakistan," he told the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee.

"The more support they see from the United States to me and my government the more extremism goes down and my support increases."

Democracy

The general also said that even though he took power by force his government is more democratic than any that have gone before it and that he would definitely hold elections in October.

"We are bringing the real essence of democracy which never existed in Pakistan," he said.

During his visit President Musharraf called for US mediation with India over the Kashmir dispute.

US officials said they would encourage the two sides to talk but added that they would only step in if asked to do so by both sides - something that India rejects.

See also:

12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Musharraf's gamble
04 Jan 02 | Americas
Powell urges Pakistan to do more
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
US hails Musharraf's 'firm stand'
14 Feb 02 | South Asia
Warm praise for Musharraf in US
15 Feb 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Musharraf's changing status
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