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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007, 17:01 GMT
Emergency may delay Pakistan poll
Policeman with a weapon on the streets of Islamabad (Sunday 4 November)
Armed police were sent to guard key locations in Islamabad

Planned elections in Pakistan could be delayed by up to a year after President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule, the country's PM says.

Shaukat Aziz told a news conference that the government remained committed to the democratic process.

But he said parliament might change the date of elections planned for January, and gave no end date for the emergency.

Rights have been suspended, media has been restricted and hundreds of people arrested under the emergency decree.

Mr Aziz said 400 to 500 "preventative arrests" had been made so far, and said the emergency, imposed by Gen Musharraf on Saturday, would last for "as long as is necessary".

Small protests have started in the capital, Islamabad, where police and security forces are on the streets surrounding key sites.

Obviously we are going to have to review the situation with aid
Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State
Gen Musharraf says he declared the emergency to stop Pakistan "committing suicide", because the country was in a crisis caused by militant violence and an unruly judiciary

The moves came as the Supreme Court was due to rule on the legality of Gen Musharraf's October election victory.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said Washington is reviewing the aid which it gives to Pakistan in the wake of Gen Musharraf's decision.

"Obviously we are going to have to review the situation with aid, in part because we have to see what may be triggered by certain statutes," Ms Rice said.

In recent years Gen Musharraf has been a key ally in Washington's war on terror and has received about $10bn in aid since 2001.

"Some of the aid that goes to Pakistan is directly related to the counterterrorism mission," Ms Rice said, adding that that complicated the issue.

Threat of force

After a calm start to Sunday, a few dozen people staged a brief protest near the parliament building in Islamabad before police moved in to break up the gathering.

The world is entering into 2008 and still we are at 1958
Nasir, Islamabad

Several people were dragged away and arrested, reports the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan, in the city.

More protests are expected throughout the rest of the day, he adds, with police appearing ready to use force against unauthorised demonstrations.

Tough new media restrictions are controlling the news available throughout Pakistan: all non-state TV stations and some radio channels have been taken off the air, as have international services such as BBC World TV.

Independent newspapers have been allowed to continue publishing, but Gen Musharraf's decree severely limits what they can report.

Local newspapers and key opposition leader Benazir Bhutto accused Gen Musharraf of bringing in martial law without formally declaring it.

But Pakistan's attorney general said the prime minister and parliament remained in place and the civilian government would continue to function.

Opposition anger

Among the hundreds of people arrested since the declaration was Javed Hashmi, acting head of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

Gen Musharraf, he said as he was taken away, would pay a price for his decision to restrict freedoms.

"Musharraf's days are numbered. Time has come to end the political role of the army."

Constitutional safeguards on life and liberty curtailed
Police get wide powers of arrest
Suspects can be denied access to lawyers
Freedom of movement restricted
Private TV stations taken off air
New rules curtail media coverage of suicide bombings or militant activity
Chief justice replaced, others made to swear oath of loyalty
Supreme Court banned from rescinding emergency order

Ms Bhutto, who recently returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile, flew back to Karachi from a trip abroad upon hearing news of Gen Musharraf's decision.

She confirmed that troops were not surrounding her Karachi home, contrary to some earlier reports, and laid out her demands for the holding of free and fair elections.

"We the political parties are calling for the restoration of the constitution, and for the holding of the elections under an independent election commission," she told the BBC.

There is no word yet whether she plans to enter dialogue with the president or to lead opposition to his rule.

President defiant

In a TV address on Saturday evening, Gen Musharraf explained his decision, saying the current situation had forced him into making "some very painful decisions".

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf 3/11/07

Pakistan has been engulfed in political upheaval in recent months, and the security forces have suffered a series of blows from pro-Taleban militants opposed to Gen Musharraf's support for the US-led "war on terror".

"Extremists are roaming around freely in the country, and they are not scared of law-enforcement agencies," the president said.

"Inaction at this moment is suicide for Pakistan and I cannot allow this country to commit suicide."

Court issue

Following the announcement of emergency rule, the country's chief justice was replaced and the Supreme Court surrounded by troops.

Pervez Musharraf (left) swears in new Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar - 3/11/2007
Gen Musharraf moved quickly to appoint a new chief justice
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and eight other judges refused to endorse the emergency order, declaring it unconstitutional, resulting in Mr Chaudhry's dismissal.

The Supreme Court was to decide whether Gen Musharraf was eligible to run for re-election last month while remaining army chief.

Fears were growing in the government that the court could rule against Gen Musharraf.

Pakistani lawyers announced they would strike on Monday in protest at the president's decision.

Troops face protests on the streets of Islamabad

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