Government officials in Pakistan have moved to quash rumours that the President was to declare a state of emergency, but doubts still persist. Pakistani media had suggested that Pervez Musharraf would order the move. This was denied by the country’s Information Minister, but his deputy, Tariq Azim, was more ambiguous: “There is no decision so far. There are options available to the government and I think it would be an irresponsible government which does not keep all the options open. We have considered various options. Emergency is one option if the law and order situation further deteriorates” said Azim.
Mounting violence at home and US pressure to stop the growth of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in northern Pakistan had been touted as justification for possible emergency rule. But more presidential power would be unacceptable says opposition leader Liaqat Baluch: “If there is a step like emergency – to impose emergency on the people of Pakistan – then we have the right to resist this supra-constitutional action.” A state of emergency might delay elections due by the end of the year, a vote that the information minister insists is a priority.