Saturday, November 03, 2007
Emergency in Pakistan: World Leaders Condemn (and rightly so...)
Picture: After Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, truckloads of soldiers arrived in the centre of the capital Islamabad - BBC (Nov 3, 2007)
For Text of Emergency Proclamation (pdf), Click here
Majority of Judges refused to take new Oath: The News
World leaders condemn state of emergency in Pakistan
International Herald Tribune, November 3, 2007
NEW DELHI: The United States and Britain expressed grave concerns about Pakistan military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency Saturday, with leaders from both countries calling for a swift return to a democratic government.
Leaders from India, Pakistan's nuclear-armed rival, had a more tempered reaction, aimed at keeping tensions low, saying they "regret the difficult times" in Pakistan and hope for a return to "normalcy."
The Bush administration, which has cast Musharraf as a key ally in its global fight against terrorism, said it was deeply disturbed by Musharraf's move.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she last spoke to Musharraf a few days ago but that other U.S. officials had spoken with him more recently and made clear that "even if something happens, that we would expect the democratic election to take place because Pakistan has got to return to a constitutional order as soon as possible, and Pakistanis have to have a prospect of free and fair elections."
Speaking to reporters during a flight from Turkey to Israel, Rice said U.S. officials told Musharraf they did not support declaring a state of emergency and "that it was absolutely essential that those elections be held."
Musharraf's move was seen as a battle lost by the Bush administration, which has tried to halt any move toward authoritarianism in Pakistan.
Bush and Musharraf have allied themselves, at times uneasily, since the Sept. 11 attacks and Pakistan helped U.S. and coalition forces battle al-Qaida, which had used the country as a safe haven.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington was "deeply disturbed" by the developments.
British officials called the state of emergency a major setback for Pakistani democracy.
"We recognize the threat to peace and security faced by the country, but its future rests on harnessing the power of democracy and the rule of law to achieve the goals of stability, development and countering terrorism," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement. "I am gravely concerned by the measures adopted today, which will take Pakistan further from these goals."
The Commonwealth, the 53-member grouping of Britain and former British colonies, also condemned Musharraf's decision, calling it "a matter of deep concern."
"It is a step in the wrong direction," said Secretary-General Don McKinnon.
India's leaders issued a less forceful response, though India has perhaps the most at stake if Pakistan descends into chaos. Pakistan and India have fought three wars against one another and still have a tense relationship, though relations have improved in recent years.
"We regret the difficult times that Pakistan is passing through," Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said. "We trust that conditions of normalcy will soon return permitting Pakistan's transition to stability and democracy to continue."
Pakistan's opposition politicians railed against the state of emergency.
Exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on Musharraf to resign immediately. Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, another former prime minister, flew back to Pakistan from United Arab Emirates late Saturday.
"Unless Gen. Musharaff reverses the course it will be very difficult to have fair elections," she told Sky News television by telephone.
She said she had returned to the country to raise the morale of the Pakistani people.
After her arrival in Karachi, Bhutto dismissed Musharraf's arguments that the emergency was necessary.
"I agree with him that we are facing a political crisis, but I believe the problem is dictatorship," she told Sky News. "I don't believe the solution is dictatorship.
"The extremists need a dictatorship, and a dictatorship needs extremists," she said.
Also See: Musharraf Declares Emergency Rule: New York Times
Musharraf Defends Emergency Rule: BBC
TIMELINE: Pakistan President Musharraf's highs and lows: Reuters
Bhutto condemns State of Emergency in Pakistan: VOA
Miliband "gravely concerned" by Pakistan move: Reuters
at 6:02 PM