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British PM Calls For Pakistan Democracy


PM calls for Pakistan democracy

The Prime Minister has called upon President Musharraf of Pakistan to return the country to democratic rule and to reinstate press freedoms.

In a Downing Street statement, Mr Brown said there was "grave concern" about recent developments and that he had discouraged Mr Musharraf from implementing the current state of emergency. The PM has also asked Mr Musharraf to release all political prisoners and restore the freedom of the media.

The PM's words came as he departed for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit in Uganda from 23-25 November. Commonwealth ministers will meet later today to decide if Pakistan should have its membership suspended.

The Prime Minister said:

"We have co-operated closely with Pakistan on economic and political reform, counter-radicalisation and vital regional issues. But President Musharraf is in no doubt of the strength of feeling in the international community about the curtailment of democratic freedoms.

"Britain will continue to encourage Pakistan to take the steps necessary to ensure a return to the democratic freedoms for which the Commonwealth stands."

President Musharraf, a serving General in the Pakistan army, declared emergency rule and suspended the constitution on 3 November. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was the target of a terrorist attack in Karachi on her returned to Pakistan on 18 October.

***

FULL STATEMENT

Statement on Pakistan: PM calls for Pakistan democracy

I will travel to Uganda today for the Commonwealth Summit. All friends of Pakistan will share our grave concern about the events of the past fortnight. I spoke to President Musharraf before he imposed the State of Emergency, to discourage this course of action. I spoke again to him last night. I have remained in close contact with President Bush and other world leaders.

We have co-operated closely with Pakistan on economic and political reform, counter-radicalisation and vital regional issues. But President Musharraf is in no doubt of the strength of feeling in the international community about the curtailment of democratic freedoms. I welcome the action he has started to take to return Pakistan to normality, including setting an election date. He has assured me that he will do his utmost to lift the State of Emergency in time for free and fair elections to be held, and to give up his military role and responsibilities as soon as possible. I have also called on him to release remaining political detainees and to fully restore press freedoms.

Commonwealth Ministers met in Kampala this morning. They will reconvene this evening to decide whether Pakistan has done enough to meet their five tests and avoid suspension from the Commonwealth. Britain will continue to encourage Pakistan to take the steps necessary to ensure a return to the democratic freedoms for which the Commonwealth stands.

ENDS

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