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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK


World: South Asia

Pakistan army pledges interim regime

People queue for news of the state of emergency

Pakistan's new military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has promised to set up an interim government of technocrats following his seizure of power on Tuesday.

Pakistan in crisis
His spokesman, Brigadier Rashid Qureshi, told the BBC that it would govern until new elections and the restoration of democracy.

Meanwhile, the US says it will impose sanctions, the European Union is threatening to cut aid to the country and Pakistan also faces suspension from the Commonwealth of former British colonies.

However, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said: "The reality here is that Pakistan is already heavily sanctioned."

After a meeting of his senior officers, Gen Musharraf said the army's top priority would be reviving the economy.

'Stability and credibility'

In a statement, the general said they had discussed "the establishment of an efficient and impartial interim set-up which would ensure stability, credibility, transparency and accountability in running the affairs of state".


The BBC's Ben Brown: "For now democracy is closed in Pakistan"
Gen Musharraf said they had also talked about the reasons for the state of emergency and that he would address the nation on the subject, "once all details were finalised".

The American ambassador to Pakistan, William Milam, who met Gen Musharraf for two hours on Friday, failed to win assurances of a return to democracy.

"He didn't give an indication of what his intentions were or his time line," said White House spokesman, Joe Lockhart.


Brigadier Rashid Qureshi: "We want a government of the people, by the people for the people"
Brigadier Qureshi said elections would be held, but he could not give a date. He said he thought Gen Musharraf would make his plans clear in a television address, planned for Saturday.

He said that Gen Musharraf would not have difficulty surrendering power, as former Pakistani military leaders had.

He added that Nawaz Sharif's government had not been democratic.

"We need a government of the people," he said. "Not a government of the few and for the few."

Abuses

Gen Musharraf assumed the position of chief executive after the declaration of a state of emergency.

He has also suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament.

In Berlin, the National Assembly speaker, Bukhsh Ilahi Soomro, has pledged to return to his homeland and fight for democracy.


[ image: Security was tight around the National Assembly building on Friday]
Security was tight around the National Assembly building on Friday
"I am proud to be the custodian of our parliament, and I am happy to fight for the independence of our parliament," he said.

Some commentators say Gen Musharraf wants corruption exposed before politicians try to seek office in early elections and is planning to appoint a panel to investigate alleged abuses by Mr Sharif and other officials.


[ image:  ]
Provisional Constitution Order No 1 made it clear that President Rafiq Tarar is now subordinate to the general. The president is required to act on, and in accordance with, the advice of the chief executive.

The president's functions normally do not include running the affairs of government.

Provincial and federal legislators have been dismissed along with senior government ministers.


[ image: General Musharraf: Will outline plans in speech]
General Musharraf: Will outline plans in speech
While courts will continue to function, they will not be allowed to challenge the army chief's position as chief executive or the state of emergency.

Finances frozen

The declaration of a state of emergency brought to an end a two-day political vacuum in which the military appeared unsure of their next step after deposing the government of Mr Sharif.

In one of their first acts, the military froze the bank accounts of Mr Sharif, other senior politicians, parliamentarians, political advisers and their spouses.


Mr Sharif's son, Hassan: "I'm really worried about his safety"
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto also had her account frozen.

"The central bank has decided that all transactions in these accounts have been stopped until further order," one banking source was quoted as saying.

Reaction

Gen Musharraf's actions came despite repeated calls from the international community for a return to civilian rule.

The US said on Friday it was considering sanctions.

"We want to see a restoration at the earliest possible moment of democracy and the return to a civilian government," White House spokesman Mr Lockhart said.

He added that President Bill Clinton had discussed the situation in Pakistan during a telephone call with the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Other related stories:

  • Pakistan declares state of emergency
  • Text of Musharraf's declaration
  • 'Plot to kill' coup leader
  • Politician tells of house arrest
  • Pakistan's coup: The 17-hour victory




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