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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 12:17 GMT
Pakistan press ponders Bush visit
Pakistani Press

Pakistan's press, reacting to US President George W Bush's visit to the country, believe he brought little of substance - one newspaper complaining "he has not even given a lollipop to Pakistan". His previous stop in India showed all too clearly that the US is more interested in its relations with Delhi, the papers write.

Some suggest Pakistan strengthen its links with China, others urge greater democracy to make Pakistan a more attractive partner, but none see an early change in US policy.

"India interests the US, but Pakistan worries it," The Times writes. "Therein lies the qualitative difference."

The Nation

President Bush's visit to Pakistan produced no fireworks, and made clear that Pakistan's importance to the US, while great, should not be exaggerated.

India, with its lure of a vast market for US multinationals, much-trumpeted democratic stature and the China factor has been favoured with a civilian nuclear deal ... [In Pakistan's case] the US assertion of abiding friendship only applies to innocuous fields.

No one would seriously deny that talks on Kashmir have made no headway, but Mr Bush is not in a position to put pressure on India to appreciate the need for durable peace in the Subcontinent.

The News

As was expected, Pakistan and the United States did not break any new ground in their relationship at the end of a day-long visit to this country by President George Bush.

As compared to his high-profile engagements in India, his sojourn to Pakistan did not involve the finalisation of any glamorous deals... President Pervez Musharraf understandably looked disappointed as he stood beside the American president as they addressed a joint press conference after their meeting in Islamabad.

For all the services that Pakistan has so far provided to the Americans in their global war against terrorism, all that President Musharraf received from his distinguished guest was a lecture on the need for democracy and refusal for any direct role in the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Times

It is clear that the United States wants to remain 'engaged' with Pakistan because the key to US security in many ways lies here. But apparently, this also requires the reading of the riot act to Pakistan as and when it becomes essential. It is an unequal and uneasy relationship and both sides know it.

Pakistan has had to review its security policies in the region, east and west, because they clashed with US interests after the 9/11 strikes. Events since then show that there are still areas of friction when it comes to handling Afghanistan and radical Islam.

The difference between the two relationships [of the US with India and Pakistan] springs from the fact that India interests the US, but Pakistan worries it. Therein lies the qualitative difference.

Express

The US priorities in South Asia can be assessed from what President Bush said at his joint press conference. It is clear that America's strategic partner in this region is India and not Pakistan.

This means that Pakistani policy makers also need to think in new directions. The time for depending too much on the US is perhaps over. Pakistan should turn the focus of its foreign policy to China now. If the US can enter an agreement over civilian nuclear cooperation, Pakistan can do the same with China. Mr Bush has made his priorities clear. We now wait and see how Pakistani policy makers respond.

Khabrain

The whole world knows that Pakistan is a frontline state in the war on terror and has lent the US all possible assistance. Yet the Americans are not satisfied with Pakistan and want more. In this situation, the US is strengthening the hands of India which can only mean weakening Pakistan.

The American demand for more on this front can also be taken as a threat. Mr Bush has said that he is battling political and jihadi Islam whereas politics and jihad are one and the same thing in the true Islamic spirit.

In the light of all this, Pakistan should not be under any illusion. The Americans only know how to use others for their own interests. Pakistan should no turn to a policy of self reliance instead of relying on the US.

Nawa-e-Waqt

The sub-text of whatever was said by Mr Bush has made it obvious that America has a determined a premier role for India in its China containment policy.

Pakistan's role in the region, as such, has become a secondary one - limited to fighting terrorism and preventing nuclear proliferation. Whatever demands the American president has made of Pakistan and what sort of cooperation he has demanded for its plans to attack Iran remain a secret as yet.

What is clear though is that America is not willing to give the same importance to Pakistan as it is to India. In these circumstances, the only option for Pakistan is to establish a model democratic nation so that a democratic Pakistan competes with a democratic India.

At the same time, Pakistan must make efforts to extricate itself from the American trap.

Pakistan

President Bush alone knows exactly why he visited Pakistan. But Pakistanis generally feel that he has not even given a lollipop to Pakistan.

No resolution of the Kashmir dispute, no road map for democracy, no appreciation of Pakistan's energy needs and no attempts to cool down tempers over the blasphemous cartoons.

It was being generally thought that President Bush's visit is aimed at strengthening President Musharraf personally, so that he may continue his fight against terrorism. But only time will tell Mr Bush has ended up strengthening or weakening his friend.



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