NYTimes Article: US Warns Against Emergency Rule In Pakistan

November 3, 2007

Musharraf Warned Not to Impose Emergency Rule 


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 2 — A senior American commander, Adm. William J. Fallon, warned Pakistan’s president on Friday not to impose emergency rule, saying that doing so would jeopardize American financial support for the military here.

Admiral Fallon met here with the Pakistani leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and his top generals to discuss a range of issues related to combating terrorism, including the Pakistani Army’s faltering efforts against Islamic militants sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, diplomats said.

The long-planned visit was at an increasingly tense time. As the date approaches for the Supreme Court to rule on whether General Musharraf can continue as president, his aides have been spreading the word that the general is considering imposing emergency rule. The court’s ruling is expected next week. Diplomats said drafts of a provisional constitutional order allowing for emergency rule had been prepared.

Admiral Fallon’s warning underscored a flurry of appeals in the past few days by Western governments for General Musharraf to abandon plans for emergency rule, a Western diplomat said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a statement to reporters on her way to Turkey, said it was “quite obvious that the United States would not be supportive of extra-constitutional means” of government. Ms. Rice called for parliamentary elections to proceed.

Under an arrangement brokered by the United States and Britain, the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan on Oct. 18 for the first time in eight years on the understanding that she would take part in elections expected early next year.

The Bush administration hoped that Ms. Bhutto would bring a democratic face to Pakistan even as it continued under the rule of General Musharraf, who has pledged to give up his military post after being sworn in for another presidential term on Nov. 15.

Ms. Bhutto left Pakistan on Thursday for what she called a few days at her home in Dubai to see her three daughters. She warned before her departure against any kind of extra-constitutional rule, and said she would return for a political rally next week.

Publicly, Pakistani government officials said Friday that emergency rule could be justified because of clashes in the past week between security forces and Islamic militants in the Swat Valley, in the North-West Frontier Province, and because of the increasing number of suicide attacks against military and police installations.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber rammed into an Air Force bus in central Punjab province, killing eight people, including Air Force personnel. Two days earlier, a suicide bomber killed seven people in an attack on a police post less than a mile from General Musharraf’s army residence in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

“If things do get bad there is a constitutional provision for emergency rule,” said Tariq Azim Khan, the minister of state for information, referring to the security situation.

Mr. Khan also took aim at the United States in statements he made Friday night on Geo TV. “The whole world knows that the United States unnecessarily interferes in Pakistan,” he said. “Nicholas Burns and Condoleezza Rice have no right to interfere in Pakistan’s internal matters.” R. Nicholas Burns is under secretary of state for political affairs.

Although General Musharraf’s supporters would justify emergency rule on the grounds of the shaky security climate, it was clear that the pending Supreme Court ruling on the validity of the president’s re-election was the prime motivation, analysts said.

The threat of emergency rule was an effort to deter the Supreme Court from overturning his election, Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a leading expert on the Pakistani military, said.

The presidential election on Oct. 6 by the national and provincial assemblies was boycotted by opposition parties in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy.

After saying it would delay its decision until Nov. 12, the Supreme Court said Friday it would move it up to next week.

General Musharraf is scheduled to begin his new term on Nov. 15. That is the date when, he has said, he will take off his military uniform and head a caretaker government until parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for early next year.

Although General Musharraf has pledged to resign his military post, Mr. Rizvi said it was far from clear that he would. “He seems determined to stay in power with a preference to keep both hats,” Mr. Rizvi said, referring to the civilian post of president and head of the military. “What he will do we don’t know.”

One consequence of emergency rule, which is one step short of martial law, would be restricting the power of the courts, said Mr. Rizvi, who lectures at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

In his meetings with General Musharraf, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the new vice chief of the Pakistani military, and other military leaders, Admiral Fallon urged the Pakistanis to improve counterinsurgency efforts in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, and in Swat, a more settled region, diplomats said.

The United States has provided Pakistan with about $10 billion in assistance since Sept. 11, 2001, almost all of it in military aid. About half of the military assistance is supposed to be used to fight terrorist groups based here. But frustration is mounting in Washington about the ineffectiveness of the Pakistani Army’s efforts against the spread and intensity of Islamic militancy.

One of Admiral Fallon’s messages was that it would be difficult for the Bush administration to persuade Congress keep up the level of military aid if emergency rule was imposed, a Western diplomat said.

A key center of Ms. Bhutto’s support in Washington comes from senior members of Congress who see her as a tribune for democracy in Pakistan.

Salman Masood and Jane Perlez reported from Islamabad and David Rohde from Peshawar.


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