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Musharraf rejects US call to lift state of emergency

By Omar Waraich

President Pervez Musharraf has rejected calls from the US to lift the state of emergency and restore Pakistan's constitution, despite a two-hour meeting with John Negroponte, a senior envoy dispatched by the Bush administration.

Mr Negroponte, the deputy US Secretary of State, left Pakistan yesterday, following meetings with General Musharraf and the deputy head of the armed forces General Ashfaq Kayani, as well as a telephone conversation with the opposition leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Mr Negroponte told reporters that while the US still regarded General Musharraf as a valuable ally, the measures he had taken since imposing a state of emergency on 3 November "run directly counter to the reforms that have been undertaken in recent years".

He added: "Emergency rule is not compatible with free, fair and credible elections, which require the active participation of political parties, civil society and the media." But Mr Negroponte admitted that his presentation to General Musharraf had so far brought no new concessions: "In diplomacy, as you know, we don't get instant replies."

The stalemate highlights Washington's lack of leverage. It has provided more than $11bn (£5.4bn) to Pakistan since the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, but has clearly shown it does not intend to stop such aid – in fact it has been reported that the US spent an additional $100m over the past six years to help General Musharraf secure his country's nuclear weapons.

Belfast Telegraph


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