( dpa ) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was to arrive Sunday in Brussels for a four-nation European tour during which, analysts said, he is aiming to boost his battered image after prolonged political turmoil and the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf would use his European visit to improve his profile and restore international confidence in his democratic credentials, analysts said.
"He would like to mobilize support for himself, which is dwindling at the international level," said Hassan Askari Rizvi, an analyst and the former head of the political science department at Punjab University. "He needs that support to cope with the serious political challenges at home in the coming months."
The trip comes as Musharraf's popularity ratings are at their lowest levels since he took power in a bloodless coup in 1999. His approval ratings have plummeted after he sacked dozens of senior judges, imposed emergency rule for six weeks and stands accused of failing to provide adequate security to Bhutto, who was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack on November 27.
For the same reasons, the embattled president, who is a key US ally in the fight against terrorism, has recently faced severe international criticism despite his retirement as military chief and his pledge to hold parliamentary elections on February 18.
"The president's meetings with major European leaders will provide an opportunity to review regional and international matters of mutual interest as well as bilateral relations, especially measures to enhance economic cooperation and trade," Pakistani Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said.
In Brussels, Musharraf is to meet EU leaders, including foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and hold talks with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. He also plans to address the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.
Terrorism is likely to be another important topic in Musharraf's talks with the European leaders, who are pressing Islamabad to do more to prevent Islamic militants from launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.
"Many in the west have recently raised questions about Pakistan's seriousness in the war against terrorism," Rizvi said, adding that Musharraf would like to address these apprehensions with EU officials.
But the failure of Islamabad in purging Islamic militancy in its restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan is evident from the fact that it lost two strategic paramilitary forts to pro-Taliban forces this week despite the deployment of more than 100,000 troops in the area. Hundreds of troops died in more than 50 suicide attacks last year.
Musharraf is also to address the Pakistani community, business leaders and a major Brussels-based think tank, before heading for France Monday for a two-day visit, during which he is to hold talks with his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Making his next trip in Davos, Switzerland, Musharraf is to attend the annual World Economic Forum, which is being held serves as a platform to address major global social and economic issues, from Wednesday through January 25.
The final leg of his tour is to take the Pakistani president to Britain, where he is to call on Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
During the three-day stay, Musharraf is to also interact with the Pakistan community, business leaders and various think tanks before returning home on January 28.