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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 07:53 GMT
US warns Pakistan over emergency
A lawyer is detained by police in Lahore, 5/11/07
Many lawyers protesting in Lahore were dragged away by police
US President George W Bush has called on his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf to end the state of emergency he has imposed and restore democracy.

Mr Bush urged President Musharraf to quit his post as head of the army and hold elections as soon as possible.

But he also made clear the US would continue to work with Pakistan's leader - a key ally in the "war on terror".

The Pakistani cabinet is expected to meet later to discuss parliamentary elections, which are due by January.

On Monday, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the vote would be held "according to the schedule" in a "smooth, transparent and peaceful manner".

However, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim later told the BBC that parliament might vote to delay elections by as much as a year.

"It is possible, and it is an option available to the legislators," he said.

We expect there to be elections as soon as possible and that the president should remove his military uniform
President Bush

"It is a position that will become clear in the next two or three days, when parliament meets. When they meet, they will decide whether they want an extension as laid out in the constitution."

Gen Musharraf said he had declared the state of emergency on Saturday because of a crisis caused by militant violence and an unruly judiciary.

Critics, however, believe he was acting to pre-empt a judgment by the Supreme Court on whether his re-election last month was legal.

Lawyers have called for three days of protests and strikes against the suspension of the constitution, but police stifled their demonstrations on Monday and have deployed in large numbers to prevent any more.

Hundreds of lawyers and political opponents have been detained.

'Restore democracy'

Speaking hours after Pakistani police used batons and tear-gas to disperse the lawyers' protests, Mr Bush said he had asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to phone Gen Musharraf to convey his disappointment, rather than making the call himself.

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

He said the US had hoped he would not declare the emergency, but that the two countries would continue to work together to fight terrorism.

"We expect there to be elections as soon as possible and that the president should remove his military uniform," he said.

"Previous to his decision, we had made it clear that these emergency measures would undermine democracy and our hope is that he will restore democracy as quickly as possible."

The BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says the fact that Gen Musharraf ignored the US warning is an embarrassing snub to the White House.

Ms Rice has said Washington will now review the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid given to Pakistan each year.

But given Pakistan's importance to the US, our correspondent says, the possibility of cutting off the flow of assistance would seem to be remote.

'Harmony will return'

Pakistan had come under heavy international pressure after Gen Musharraf imposed emergency rule.

I think Musharraf has about the most difficult job on the planet
David Bradshaw, Ashford, UK

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern and called for the release of all those detained since the state of emergency was declared.

The UK has also reiterated demands for a return to civilian rule in Pakistan.

The Netherlands became the first country to suspend aid, and the EU said its members were considering "possible further steps".

On Monday, Gen Musharraf said confidence in his government would soon return and insisted he still planned to give up his military post as he had been scheduled to do so this month.

"I am determined to remove my uniform once we correct these pillars - the judiciary, the executive, and the parliament," he told a meeting of foreign ambassadors.

"I can assure you there will be harmony... confidence will come back into the government, into law enforcement agencies."

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Musharraf defends the emergency rule

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