Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, July 06, 2003

News Analysis: Why Does Pakistan Turn to West Again?

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Saturday said his two-week long visit to Britain, the United States, Germany and France has helped establish long-term relationship with these countries, particularly with the United States.


Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Saturday said his two-week long visit to Britain, the United States, Germany and France has helped establish long-term relationship with these countries, particularly with the United States.

Musharraf kicked off his visit on June 17 and returned home on July 5. He told reporters on his arrival at the Chaklala Air base near Islamabad that during his "very successful" visit, he exchanged views with the world leaders on bilateral relations and international issues covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the outstanding Pak-Indo Kashmir dispute.

His visit, Musharraf believes, has greatly strengthened the political and economic relations between Pakistan and the West.

Analysts here understand that Musharraf's visit was aimed at achieving the following three main objectives:

Firstly, to develop long-term and comprehensive relationship with the West, particularly with the United States, in order to create beneficial international surroundings for the country's security and economic development.

The security situation around Pakistan has deteriorated drastically after the "Sept. 11" terrorist attacks. The anti-terror war on Afghanistan's former Taliban regime and the US-led military invasion against Iraq have changed the Pakistanis' conception of security. Although the Musharraf government adopted a timely U-turn policy and deserted the Taliban, Islamabad does not feel safe enough.

It is the dramatic changes that have pushed the Pakistani leadership to approach the West. They believe that only the West can help avert or neutralize any future potential threat.

Therefore, Islamabad is eager to take full advantage of its vital cooperation with the West in the anti-terror war to establish long-term relations with the world powers. Their relations became cool in the 1990s after Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests and a bloodless military coup to topple the civilian government in 1999.

Secondly,to strengthen economic and trade ties with the West so as to pave the way for long-term and stable political relations. ����

There is wide perception among Pakistani officials and scholarsthat Islamabad's relations with the West particularly with the United States in the past decades are not "strategic" but "tactic"and "event-oriented." They are of the view that strong economic and trade ties are a pillar of any strategic relations and that nodoubt, they can serve as a reliable stabilizer for bilateral political relations.

During his visit, Musharraf spared no efforts to call for greater economic assistance to his country and urged the Western entrepreneurs and businessmen to invest and do business in his country.

In this regard, Musharraf has succeeded in bringing home from the United States a five-year, three billion US dollar economic assistance package, a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement andan agreement on science and technology cooperation.

Thirdly, to resume defense cooperation and ask the West to liftban on sale of weapons.

Pakistan can only turn to the West for advanced and sophisticated weapon systems since it could not get from other main weaponry exporters such as Israel and Russia for some reasons. However, the West has imposed military embargoes on Islamabad for its nuclear program since the early 1990s. The Pakistanis until now could not forgive the United States because it refused to deliver the 28 F-16 fighters their Air Force purchased in the late 1980s.

The US endorsement of Israel's sale of three advanced Phalcon air-borne reconnaissance systems to India worried Islamabad much. It argues that this deal can break the delicate conventional military balance between the two arch rivals. During his meeting with US President George Bush on June 24 at Camp David, Musharraf expressed his severe concerns for the national security and asked Washington to lift its military embargo.

Fortunately, on July 1, Germany decided to lift its ban on military sales to Pakistan after Musharraf's meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, which symbolizes the military relations between Pakistan and the West has begun to resume.

Although Musharraf failed in persuading Washington to write offthe remaining debt of 1.8 billion US dollars and to sell F-16 fighters, analysts here said his visit has deepened the world leaders' understanding of his country, improved Pakistan's image in the world and laid a solid foundation for long-term and all-around relations between Pakistan and the western powers.

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