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Bush Offers Praise To Pakistani Leader

President Bush takes a swing with a cricket bat with players from the Islamabad College for Boys during his day-long visit to Pakistan.
President Bush takes a swing with a cricket bat with players from the Islamabad College for Boys during his day-long visit to Pakistan. (By Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press)

Unprovoked, Musharraf defended his refusal to relinquish his military position, which he had promised to do by 2004. He said he would revisit the issue next year.

U.S. officials said Bush is more concerned about Musharraf's help in hunting down terrorists than he is about Pakistan's mixed record on democracy, in large part because Bush realizes democracy is new to the region and will take time to blossom.

Bush said he was pleased with Pakistan's commitment to finding Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding along the Pakistani-Afghan border, and other terrorists.

"Part of my mission today was to determine whether or not the president is as committed as he has been in the past to bringing these terrorists to justice, and he is," Bush said. "He understands the stakes, he understands the responsibility, and he understands the need to make sure our strategy is able to defeat the enemy."

Musharraf said "if there are slippages" in Pakistan's pursuit of terrorists, they have been caused by "implementation," not intentions.

Still, Bush made clear that Pakistan, while an important ally, has not earned his trust in the way that neighboring India has.

"I explained that Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories," Bush said. "So, as we proceed forward, our strategy will take in effect those well-known differences." He did, however, pledged to continue U.S. economic assistance.

Bush spent the entire day here, starting with a welcoming ceremony and ending with a state dinner. In the afternoon, Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers, took a swing at cricket, hitting a few balls and bowling -- akin to pitching -- with about two dozen children. He presented them with autographed baseballs.


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