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Musharraf's exit: Gilani's US trip played vital role

Pak's Yousuf Raza Gilani's July visit for convincing Prez Bush, the "last holdout" of Pervez Musharraf in the US, to stop backing the ex-army chief.

world Updated: Aug 19, 2008 16:42 IST

Pakistan's ruling coalition used Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani's July visit to Washington for convincing President George W Bush, the "last holdout" of Pervez Musharraf in the US, to stop backing the ex-army chief.

This was the culmination of a sustained campaign to neutralise the pro-Musharraf lobby in Washington, in which American Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson and her counterpart in the US Husain Haqqani played a key role, the Dawn daily reported on Tuesday.

Diplomatic sources in Washington described President Bush as Musharraf's "last holdout" in the US capital. Others in the Bush administration - including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - had long given up on Musharraf but Bush remained faithful to the person he considered a close ally and a personal friend, the daily said.

Patterson told the Musharraf backers in the Bush administration that if US continued supporting him it would end up stoking massive anti-American feelings in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Ambassador Husain Haqqani used his contacts on Capitol Hill and in the US administration to win over influential lawmakers and officials, the report said.

By the time Gilani met Bush on July 28, Pakistani lobbyists were satisfied that they had neutralised the pro-Musharraf lobby. "After a good luncheon at the White House with people who had their hearts in the right place, Bush also realised that he can no longer save Musharraf," said an expert in a US think tank who worked with Haqqani.

Bush still wanted to make sure that Musharraf was not penalised and he used allies Britain and Saudi Arabia to negotiate terms for a graceful exit for him.