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Pak opposition, media slam Bush visit

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March 05, 2006 18:31 IST

Disappointed that no major concessions were announced during US President George W Bush's [Images] visit to Pakistan, opposition parties have said it did not bring any tangible gains on Kashmir, nuclear energy and defence while the media slammed it as a "dull affair" with Washington "tilting" in favour of India.

Deputy secretary-general of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Liaquat Baloch termed the Bush visit as "most disappointing" and said the American president has left Islamabad [Images] "out in the cold" on the Kashmir issue while giving a clear edge to India over Pakistan in bilateral dealings.

He said that opposition's stance had been vindicated by President Bush's visit and called upon General Musharraf to step down after what he termed as total failure as far as the country's foreign and defence policies were concerned.

Chairman of the Opposition Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy Makhdoom Amin Fahim said the country did not get anything and that the basic purpose of Bush's visit was to step up operations against Al Qaeda [Images] operatives and to urge Pakistan to expedite the arrest of Osama bin Laden.

He also expressed strong reservations about President Musharraf's statement in his joint press conference with Bush that he had introduced the "essence of democracy" in Pakistan.

The fact remains that it is General Musharraf who has derailed democracy by removing a democratically-elected government in 1999, Fahim said.

MMA president Qazi Hussain Ahmed said the duplicity of the US president was evident when he offered the nuclear cooperation deal to India.

In a statement issued from Lahore [Images], he said, on the one hand the US was opposing Iran's peaceful nuclear programme while on the other it was offering concessions to India despite it not being a signatory to Non Proliferation Treaty and in violation of its own laws.

He said Musharraf's request to President Bush to help resolve the Kashmir issue was a big mistake as the US president would never play a neutral role.

Iqbal Zafar Jhagra of the PML (Nawaz group) and ARD's secretary-general said genuine democracy could not be restored as long as the US continued to support a military dictator.

He also berated the American president for having double standards and said it was applying one standard of democracy for Pakistan in presence of a president in uniform.

He said that Pakistan's image had been tarnished by the US president's visit adding, that despite enjoying the status of strategic partner, Islamabad had been ditched while unprecedented favours had been granted to New Delhi [Images].

"As expected, Pakistan and United States did not break any new ground in their relationship at the end of the day-long visit to Pakistan by President George Bush [Images]. His visit to Islamabad was nothing more than a balancing act that he had to do since he was visiting India," The News daily said in its editorial.

Unlike his Indian visit, no "glamorous deals" were struck making Bush visit a "dull affair", it said. 

"President Musharraf understandably looked disappointed as he stood beside the American president when they addressed a joint press conference during their meeting in Islamabad," The News said adding, on the "issues of importance in the regional context, Islamabad does not find an ally in Washington, which is clearly tilting towards India."

In an elaborate editorial, the Daily Times said Bush assertions in the press conference that "my mission today was to determine whether or not president (Musharraf) is as commited as he has been in the past to bring these terrorist to justice" would only put more pressure on Musharraf.

"He's (Musharraf) clearly under pressure. But pressure has been building slowly" as US forces carried out direct attacks on the Al Qaeda targets within Pakistan territory ahead of Bush visit.

Also Bush's blunt refusal "without any qualms" to extend the nuclear deal he struck with India to Pakistan, asserting that both the countries had "different histories and needs", reflects Islamabad's interest were in variance with that of Washington in the aftermath of the 9/11, it said.

The difference in US relationship with India and Pakistan spring from the fact that "India interests US" whereas "Pakistan worries it", the newspaper said.

For this reason the US is "leveraging" its policies without "ruffling" India specially by refusing to take more active role in resolving Kashmir other than saying that it encouraged a solution acceptable to all parties.

"Bush has thrown the ball in Pakistan's court on all issues, but primarily on fighting terrorism and rolling back the radical political Islam that spawns it," it said.

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