President George W. Bush will visit Pakistan in March. Pakistan, says Mr. Bush, is a country that "has come a long way in a short time":
"Five years ago, Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized the Taleban regime in Afghanistan. That all changed after September 11th. President [Pervez] Musharraf understood that he had to make a fundamental choice for his people. He could turn a blind eye and leave his people hostage to terrorists, or he could join the free world in fighting the terrorists. President Musharraf made the right choice, and the United States of America is grateful for his leadership."
The terrorists have tried to assassinate President Musharraf on a number of occasions because, says Mr. Bush, "he is a man of courage":
"Pakistan still has a distance to travel on the road to democracy, yet it has some fundamental institutions that a democracy requires. Pakistan has a lively and generally free press. . . .There are a number of political parties and movements that regularly challenge the government. President Musharraf remains committed to a moderate state that respects the role of Islam in Pakistani society while providing an alternative to Islamic radicalism."
Elections will be held in Pakistan in 2007. President Bush says, "This will be an important test of Pakistan's commitment to democratic reform":
"The Pakistanis are taking this step toward democracy at a difficult time in their history. There are determined enemies of freedom attacking from within."
The United States "understand[s] this struggle," says Mr. Bush. And the U.S., he says, will walk with the Pakistanis "on their path to freedom and democracy."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.