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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Pakistan: Still out in the cold?
General Musharraf at a news conference
General Musharraf: Pledges to restore democracy
By South Asia analyst Jannat Jalil

A year after they seized power in a coup, the military authorities in Pakistan insist they are committed to restoring democracy within two years once they have cleaned up politics and repaired the battered economy.

President Clinton
President Clinton: Made a brief stopover
The international community is still putting pressure on the army to restore democracy earlier but one human rights group has called for it to do more to end military rule.

Apart from a brief visit by President Clinton earlier this year, after a much longer stay in neighbouring India, Pakistan has not received many leading international political figures this year.

This is in direct contrast to its rival, India, which has seen delegations from Europe, America and Australia beating a track to either Delhi or its high-tech capital, Bangalore, to foster closer relations.

This month, President Putin of Russia did not set foot in Pakistan while on a mission to revive ties with India, although a Russian envoy did visit Pakistan a few days before his trip.

When the military seized power in a bloodless but dramatic coup last year, Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth and condemned by nations like Britain.

But such had been the failure of democracy in Pakistan, that other nations, most notably the United States, were less critical and appeared inclined to give the army a chance to prove itself.

A year on, they are still waiting.

Slow reforms

Reforms have been slow, although the government has managed to increase tax collection as part of its attempt to get badly-needed aid from the IMF, despite widespread opposition from Pakistanis unused to paying taxes.

But perhaps nothing symbolises Pakistan's waning influence on the international scene as much as last month's UN General Assembly.

The military ruler only managed to talk briefly to President Clinton at the summit.

The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, by contrast, stayed on for an official visit and was lavished with attention from the Americans, even addressing Congress, an honour accorded to few foreign leaders.

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See also:

10 Oct 00 | South Asia
Pakistani leader defends record
14 Aug 00 | South Asia
Musharraf unveils local election plan
25 May 00 | South Asia
Musharraf pledges return to democracy
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