Musharraf declares state of emergency

Musharraf declares state of emergency

NEW DELHI – World leaders called yesterday for a swift return to a constitutional government in Pakistan and said military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency was a setback for democracy.

Asia’s two largest countries, however, reacted with restraint. China said it was confident Pakistan could solve its own problems, while longtime rival India tempered its response to keep tensions low, saying it regretted Pakistan’s ‘difficult times’.On Saturday, Musharraf suspended the constitution ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on his future as president.He also replaced the chief justice, curtailed the media, banned public gatherings and rounded up opposition leaders.Japan, which recently halted a six-year anti-terrorism mission in the Indian Ocean, said Musharraf’s actions hindered the establishment of democracy.”Japan has constantly supported Pakistan’s war on terror and its efforts to establish democracy.Japan strongly hopes that Pakistan will soon restore normalcy and return to the process of democratisation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also called for a rapid return to constitutional rule.”Pakistan faces difficult security circumstances and a number of serious challenges to its stability.Australia’s strong view remains, however, that democracy and the rule of law are an essential part of achieving peace and stability,” he said in a statement Sunday.France expressed its ‘worry’ over the developments and also urged a return to “the regular functioning of the institutions and the maintenance of a constitutional state.”France hopes “dialogue between all Pakistani political forces can guarantee stability and democracy,” its Foreign Ministry said.The United States, which has cast Musharraf as a key ally in its global fight against terrorism, said it was deeply disturbed by the moves.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in Jerusalem at the start of two days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, said she has not spoken to Musharraf since he imposed the state of emergency.”I just want to repeat that the United States does not support, and indicated to the Pakistani leadership prior to this action that it would not support, extraconstitutional means,” she said.”The issue now is it’s in the best interest of Pakistan and the best interest of the Pakistani people for there to be a prompt return to the constitutional force, for there to be affirmation that elections will be held for a new Parliament,” she said.Musharraf’s move was seen as a battle lost by the Bush administration, which has tried to halt any move toward authoritarianism in Pakistan.Nampa-APChina said it was confident Pakistan could solve its own problems, while longtime rival India tempered its response to keep tensions low, saying it regretted Pakistan’s ‘difficult times’.On Saturday, Musharraf suspended the constitution ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on his future as president.He also replaced the chief justice, curtailed the media, banned public gatherings and rounded up opposition leaders.Japan, which recently halted a six-year anti-terrorism mission in the Indian Ocean, said Musharraf’s actions hindered the establishment of democracy.”Japan has constantly supported Pakistan’s war on terror and its efforts to establish democracy.Japan strongly hopes that Pakistan will soon restore normalcy and return to the process of democratisation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also called for a rapid return to constitutional rule.”Pakistan faces difficult security circumstances and a number of serious challenges to its stability.Australia’s strong view remains, however, that democracy and the rule of law are an essential part of achieving peace and stability,” he said in a statement Sunday.France expressed its ‘worry’ over the developments and also urged a return to “the regular functioning of the institutions and the maintenance of a constitutional state.”France hopes “dialogue between all Pakistani political forces can guarantee stability and democracy,” its Foreign Ministry said.The United States, which has cast Musharraf as a key ally in its global fight against terrorism, said it was deeply disturbed by the moves.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in Jerusalem at the start of two days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, said she has not spoken to Musharraf since he imposed the state of emergency.”I just want to repeat that the United States does not support, and indicated to the Pakistani leadership prior to this action that it would not support, extraconstitutional means,” she said.”The issue now is it’s in the best interest of Pakistan and the best interest of the Pakistani people for there to be a prompt return to the constitutional force, for there to be affirmation that elections will be held for a new Parliament,” she said.Musharraf’s move was seen as a battle lost by the Bush administration, which has tried to halt any move toward authoritarianism in Pakistan.Nampa-AP

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