CNN : Rice: U.S. to review aid to Pakistan

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rice: U.S. to review aid to Pakistan

* NEW Rice: "The situation has changed, we have to review where we are"
* NEW Rice: Says Washington was not consulted about Musharraf's plan
* Pakistani PM says state of emergency to last "as long as it is necessary"
* PM: No decision yet on elections; 500 "preventative arrests" made so far

November 4, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan(CNN) -- The United States will review its financial aid package to its key anti-terrorism ally Pakistan after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency there on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.

"Obviously the situation has changed and we have to review where we are," Rice said, noting that it is a complicated matter because much of the aid goes to counterterrorism measures.

Earlier, Rice said Washington had not been consulted about Musharraf's plan to declare the emergency measure, which suspends the constitution and widens his powers.

"I'm disappointed in his decision," she said, noting that the last time she spoke to the Pakistani leader was on Tuesday.

Earlier Sunday Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters that the state of emergency declared in Pakistan will be imposed for "as long as it is necessary."

Aziz said no decision had yet been made as to whether parliamentary elections scheduled for January would go ahead as planned, but earlier Information Minister Tariq Azim Khan on Dubai-based GEO TV said parliamentary elections would be delayed indefinitely.

The political turmoil comes ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on whether Musharraf's recent re-election is legal.

Aziz said there could be "some timing difference" on the schedule for elections but affirmed the Pakistan leadership was still committed to democracy. He said the state of emergency had been imposed to "bring more harmony to the pillars of state" and to protect against extremism in the country.

The prime minister said that up to 500 people had been arrested so far in a round-up of judges, lawyers and political activists. Among the political activists arrested is Gen. Hameed Gull, the former head of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, police officials told CNN.

Dubai-based GEO television showed live footage of Gull being apprehended as he attempted to meet some of the seven Supreme Court judges placed under house arrest Saturday after refusing to endorse the president's decision to suspend the constitution.

"There have been 400 to 500 preventative arrests in the country," Aziz told a news conference in Islamabad.

Media and police sources say 1,500 opposition figures from Pakistan's military, judiciary and political sectors have been detained.

In the wake of Saturday's declaration, the government also issued new rules forbidding newspapers and broadcasters from expressing opinions prejudicial to "the ideology of Pakistan or integrity of Pakistan".

In response to questions on the measures taken by the Pakistan government against the media, Aziz said the press would have to abide by a new "code of conduct".

He insisted that the code was not designed to curb dissent and that "constructive criticism is welcome."

One of the estimated 1,500 political opponents rounded up following Saturday's state of emergency declaration was Imran Khan, the former captain of the Pakistani cricket team and head of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, according to his press adviser.

Uniformed and plain clothes policemen came to his residence in Islamabad and detained the opposition leader in the early hours of Sunday morning, his press adviser Jim Choudhray told CNN.

Choudhray said members of Khan's household were unaware of his current whereabouts.

Others detained include Javaid Hashmi, the acting president of exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

Hashmi told GEO television by phone that he had been arrested in Multan province along with Abrar Hasan, the President of the Bar Association for Sind province.

Police officials said the Additional Advocate General of Punjab, Khadim Hussain Qaiser, was also arrested Sunday in the city of Lahore.

Musharraf declared a state of emergency ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on whether his recent re-election to the presidency was valid. Musharraf, also the military's leader, has already deployed troops, suspended the constitution and sacked the chief justice.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan Saturday after hearing the news. A victory for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party in those elections would give her a chance to win a third term as prime minister.

Bhutto, who ended eight years of self-imposed exile when she arrived in Pakistan last month, said Musharraf's declaration likely stemmed from fear that the high court might not certify the October presidential results in which he garnered a vast majority of the votes. The Supreme Court was considering legal challenges filed by the opposition questioning Musharraf's eligibility to hold office.

"Now, I can understand that he might have had difficulty in accepting the verdict of the Supreme Court, but one has to accept the ruling of a court," she said.

Under the constitution, Musharraf was ineligible for run for another term while serving both as president and military leader. However, the court allowed the election to go ahead, saying it would decide the issue later.

Since then, Pakistan has been in a state of political limbo while the Supreme Court tackled legal challenges filed by the opposition that question Musharraf's eligibility to hold office. Some speculated that a declaration of emergency is tied to rumors the court is planning to rule against Musharraf.

Musharraf has stated repeatedly that he will step down as military leader before re-taking the presidential oath of office on November 15, and has promised to hold parliamentary elections by January 15.

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