Security throughout Pakistan's capital city is tight ahead of President Bush's visit later Friday. Hard-line Islamic parties are vowing to flood the streets to protest the U.S. leader's alleged anti-Muslim policies, as Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf prepares to meet with the American leader.
President Bush is expected to reach Islamabad late Friday night, his first visit to Pakistan since taking office in 2001. His arrival comes as Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf faces mounting domestic pressure to sever ties with the United States.
For weeks, thousands of people in Pakistan have staged often-violent protests against the United States and other Western countries over controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad unfavorably in European media.
Then Thursday, a suicide bomber killed three people and wounded more than 50 others outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.
Political analysts, like former Punjab University Professor Hassan Askari, say the upcoming Bush summit will be a defining moment for Mr. Musharraf's political future.
"He is facing a lot of opposition within Pakistan," said Askari. "Therefore, this is a real test of his leadership and his ability to protect his regime's interests." He said Mr. Musharraf will likely seek U.S. support in three key areas. First, will be some form of nuclear support from the United States following Bush's landmark agreement to sell rival India civilian nuclear fuel and reactor components.
"We have yet to see the details of the agreement," said Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Tasneem Aslam, "but Pakistan has the same claim and expectations for international cooperation."
Second, Mr. Musharraf will push for greater U.S. involvement in Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim as there own and is currently divided between them. Pakistan has long sought third party intervention, something India has strenuously resisted.
Third, Pakistan is hoping for increased economic support from Washington.
Of course the dominant issue remains the U.S. led war on terror. Both U.S. and Afghan officials have increasingly questioned Pakistan's commitment in wiping out Taleban and al-Qaida militant training camps inside Pakistan.