Pakistan’s President has reacted to US and EU criticism over his imposition of emergency rule at the weekend. As army barricades protected the presidential palace in Islamabad, General Pervez Musharraf promised to quit the military as part of the country’s transition to a civilian-led democracy. The government also said January’s scheduled parliamentary elections will go ahead.
Musharraf is a close ally of America in the fight against terrorism. But he found himself at the centre of seldom-heard US criticism, after declaring a state of emergency to counter what he called growing militancy and a judiciary hostile to his presidency.
When the clampdown began on Saturday, security forces began rounding up Musharraf’s opponents in major cities around Pakistan, including the capital Islamabad.
In Lahore, police used teargas against protesting lawyers, just some of the 500 or so opponents taken into custody in what the government called a ‘preventative’ measure.
The main Islamist opposition party also claimed up to 700 of its supporters had been arrested in southern and central provinces.