The Pakistani press appeared defiant over media restrictions
Branches of the Pakistani press appear defiant as they ignore media restrictions imposed as part of President Pervez Musharraf's state of emergency.
They voice criticism of the general's decision and express concerns about the possibility of martial law and a deepening political crisis.
In India, many papers interpret the declaration as Gen Musharraf trying to "protect himself".
We think President Musharraf, by giving arguments in favour of emergency, has actually confessed to the failures of his eight-year rule and said clearly that the country is facing political, constitutional and economic crises. This confession itself is a cause for disappointment for the people, who are reluctant to believe that more steps by President Musharraf would put the country on the path of political stability and economic development.
We believe if martial law is imposed after emergency, it would be the last in the country's history. The media have felt their responsibility, the inertia of civil society has broken, and the lawyers are keen to make every sacrifice to uphold the rule of law. Political forces too should be united in support of the democratic identity of the country. In this situation emergency and martial law would be the weakest dams to break.
The full consequences of the new situation Pakistan has been plunged into are still to be seen. But they cannot be positive. As such, in the current scenario, one can only hope the present phase is kept as short as possible and full constitutional rule is restored before the passage of too many weeks or months of darkness.
We think this attitude and measure should be reviewed and fair elections should be arranged by [President Musharraf] taking off his military uniform in accordance with US advice so the country can get out of the current crisis.
Saturday's declaration of emergency rule has put an abrupt end to the government's policy of "enlightened moderation", as borne out by detention of dozens of civil society members within 24 hours of the proclamation. It is ironical that such natural allies against the forces of extremism should now be seen, together with the independent media and the judiciary, as a threat to state power. Both had asserted their freedom, which admittedly tried the patience of the executive.
We think the government should shorten the duration of emergency and restore the basic human rights of the people as soon as possible.
Now it is better for us to look forward. The political parties should take care of their responsibility and play their role. Lawyers and the media should fulfil their obligations. Such a strategy should be adopted so that the country can be put back on track, the constitution can be restored and free and fair elections can take place.
The common people demanded the restoration of real democracy, instead of military rule. But from the beginning, the military has been so dominant in Pakistan that whenever rulers are afraid of losing power, they do not hesitate to get angry. [President Musharraf] could not have dared to take these extreme steps without US consent. Autocracy never serves the common people well. Moreover, how long will he remain in power by this artificial method?
Despite having thrust emergency upon the country to protect himself, Musharraf will fast slide to his doom, which is the ultimate fate of all dictators. In all probability, another dictatorship will replace the current one.
Military and political tension is bound to seize the country. Social instability will also increase. It is feared that the internal situation will force the Pakistani government to increase its support for terrorists. This, in turn, is likely to increase terrorist activities in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country.
It is surprising that within 24 hours of the warning issued by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Musharraf took recourse to emergency. This means he is either capable of fooling the United States or he does not care about it. Whatever the truth might be, Musharraf's decision has dealt a big blow to the United States and its image. It should be noted here that allegations are being levelled that the United States was in the know about Musharraf's decision.
BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.