Pakistan's President Declares State of Emergency President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday ahead of a crucial Supreme Court decision on whether to overturn his recent election win and amid rising Islamic militant violence.
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Pakistan's President Declares State of Emergency

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Pakistan's President Declares State of Emergency

Pakistan's President Declares State of Emergency

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

President Pervez Musharraf has declared a state of emergency in Pakistan and suspended the constitution. This order comes a few days before Pakistan's Supreme Court was scheduled to rule on whether to overturn General Musharraf's recent election victory.

Today, dozens of police blocked the road in front of the court, but the judges believed to be inside and the chief justice of the court has been sacked. At least one opposition leader has been detained, and the government has reportedly cut transmissions of private news channels, leaving many residents unaware of the crisis.

General Musharraf's declaration defies warnings from Western leaders, including Secretary of State Rice, telling them not to make any moves that could threaten Pakistan's moves toward democracy.

NPR's Philip Reeves joins us from New Delhi, where he's been monitoring the situation.

Philip, you've read the text of the order imposing emergency rule. What are some of the features?

PHILIP REEVES: Well, I think it's the text (unintelligible) has been sent to me by e-mail from our representative in Islamabad and I have no reason to believe that this text is not accurate. It says that there has been an ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and it cited that as one reason.

But very quickly, it gets on to the issue of the judiciary in Pakistan and it makes some quite remarkably strong criticisms of the judiciary. It says some members of the judiciary are working at (unintelligible) purposes with the executive and the legislature in the fight against terrorism. It speaks of increasing interference by some members of the judiciary and government policy, adversely affecting economic growth, it says in particular.

It talks about constant interference in executive functions, including the control of terrorist activity, economic policy price controls, downsiding(ph) - downsizing of corporations. It says the police force has been completely demoralized and is fast losing its efficiency, its ability to fight terrorism.

It says the intelligence agencies have been thwarted in their activities and prevented from pursuing terrorists. And it says that some judges by overstepping, it says, the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions. It talks of the humiliating treatment meted to government officials by the (unintelligible) of the judiciary on a routine basis.

It says, in the end, the situations arisen where the government of the country can't be carried on in accordance with the constitution and as the constitution provides, it says, no solution for the situation, there's no way out except through what it calls emergent - I imagine it means emergency and extraordinary measures.

If this is indeed the document, I believe it to be, then it means that this is very much related to the challenge that the Supreme Court has been confronting President Pervez Musharraf with actually since the chief justice was reinstated after Musharraf tried to sack him.

SIMON: In the 30 seconds we have left, let's note there are reports that he's appointed a new chief justice. And of course, all of this raises the question about Benazir Bhutto who was in Dubai, has immediately it is reported flown back and is reported to be in Karachi, I guess, landed in Karachi. What's expected to be her role now?

REEVES: Well, very difficult to imagine her working with Musharraf now. The U.S. and the British pushed that partnership but she is very likely now to go into opposition. It's hard to see her supporting a military ruler who's declared emergency law.

SIMON: Thanks very much.

NPR's Philip Reeves in New Delhi.

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