The Missing Man

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 29, 2008

Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday about U.S. policy toward Pakistan.

His words were most noteworthy for what he did not say: Negroponte made no mention of President Pervez Musharraf - the longtime Bush administration ally and recipient of more than $10 billion in U.S. aid since 2001 - whose party was routed in the Feb. 18 legislative elections.

In what appeared to be a clear effort to distance the United States from the embattled Musharraf, Negroponte's prepared testimony made not a single reference to the Pakistani leader.

When pressed by lawmakers, Negroponte said only, "Musharraf is still the Mus of his country, and we look forward to continuing to work with him."

Quite a difference from the last time Negroponte testified about Pakistan nearly four months ago, shortly after Musharraf had declared emergency rule.

Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Nov. 7, Negroponte referred to Musharraf 11 times in his prepared testimony - often with praise.

On Fighting Terrorism

Nov. 7, 2007: "President Musharraf has been indispensable in the global war on terror."

Feb. 28, 2008: "Pakistan has been indispensable to our worldwide struggle against violent extremists."

On Pakistan's Future

Nov. 7, 2007: "Under President Musharraf, Pakistan has become a more moderate, more prosperous partner than it has been at some points in its past, with a government that shares many of our most basic strategic imperatives."

Feb. 28, 2008: "The United States continues to believe that only democracy can build a long-term consensus among Pakistanis on a moderate, prosperous future for their country."

On the Economy

Nov. 7, 2007: "Pakistan has enjoyed an average of 7 percent economic growth since 2001, due in part to President Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's sound economic policies."

Feb. 28, 2008: "We should now renew our efforts by continuing to support Pakistan's democratic progress, to improve its education system, to improve governance across the country, and to offer more economic opportunities to its citizens in impoverished areas."

On Signs of Success

Nov. 7, 2007: "These successes were in no small measure due to the growth of civil society and media groups under President Musharraf."

Feb. 28, 2008: "Pakistan took a big step toward civilian democracy on February 18, holding successful elections under challenging circumstances."

On U.S. Aid

Nov. 7, 2007: "Pakistan has undoubtedly made progress toward becoming a more moderate, stable, and prosperous country since President Musharraf came to power."

Feb. 28, 2008: "Our assistance and engagement in Pakistan are designed to help the country develop into a modern, moderate, democratic and prosperous country."

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