Musharraf set to end Pakistan emergency

President Pervez Musharraf will lift Pakistan's state of emergency on Saturday only after changing the constitution to ensure that he cannot be hauled before a court, a senior official said Thursday.

Musharraf set to end Pakistan emergency

Musharraf purged the judiciary, jailed thousands of opponents and silenced television news channels after he suspended the constitution and declared emergency rule on Nov. 3.

On Thursday, Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum said that the president, who has acknowledged that he breached the constitution, will amend the charter to protect his decisions from legal challenges.

Qayyum said government legal experts were finalizing the changes and that they would be announced before Musharraf lifts the emergency on Saturday, but provided no details.

"The president will lift the emergency to restore the constitution and the fundamental rights," he said.

Qayyum's comments came a day after Information Minister Nisar Memon rejected claims that the government was trying to stifle the media ahead of next month's parliamentary elections.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists accused the government Wednesday of "an attempt to silence the free media" by ordering TV stations to stop airing live coverage of political debate.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority issued a letter Tuesday, addressed to "all satellite TV channels," saying some were still airing live coverage and taking live telephone calls which "contain baseless propaganda against Pakistan and incite people to violence."

The letter warned that the channels could be taken off the air and those responsible jailed for up to three years and fined up to $170,000.

"Every one of us in Pakistan should share the responsibility and work for betterment of the country by keeping the environment conducive for the polls," Memon said.

The threat could dissuade networks from covering fiery speeches of opposition leaders such as Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, two former prime ministers who recently returned from years of living in exile.

Both Bhutto and Sharif have hit the campaign trail this week after abandoning threats to boycott the Jan. 8 elections.

Addressing hundreds of backers near the eastern city of Sialkot on Wednesday, Sharif urged people to reject candidates from the pro-Musharraf ruling party. "I want to eliminate dictatorship, and I cannot achieve this goal without your support," Sharif said.

Bhutto repeated accusations that Musharraf will use police, judiciary officials and administration functionaries to cheat. She urged them not to comply.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Aralık 2007, 15:04