EU urges Musharraf to shed uniform by Nov 15, hold polls as scheduled

November 14th, 2007 - 10:15 am ICT by admin  
The Union also showed concerns over the arrests of political leaders, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and representatives of civil society after the declaration of emergency last Saturday.

Rejecting the state of emergency imposed by Musharraf, the heads of the Mission of European Union said they were concerned about the curbs on the media, the Daily Times reported.

Meanwhile, Britain also called on Musharraf to set a specific date for the elections scheduled for January. The daily quoted a foreign news agency as reporting that Britain warned that the current crisis could have an impact on British aid to the country.

In a detailed statement in the House of Commons, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called for the release of political prisoners, the easing of restrictions on the media, including the BBC, and for Musharraf to honour a commitment to stand down as head of the army.

Miliband said that the issue of British aid to Pakistan - currently scheduled to total 480 million pounds over the next three years - would have to be discussed.

Miliband was quoted by the Dawn as saying that he had made clear Britain’s concerns on the telephone to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, as well as Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

“I have been in touch with European counterparts from France, Germany and Portugal. I have spoken to the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and to Javier Solana, the EU’s High Representative,” he said.

Miliband said that the prevailing situation in Pakistan also raised important issues for the Commonwealth.

“We look forward to a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group next Monday in London, at which the situation in Pakistan is an agenda item. Leaders will also have the chance to discuss the issue at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda later this month,” he said.

“I acknowledge that this is particularly worrying for the British citizens of Pakistani heritage and the Pakistani community resident in the UK, but it matters to us all. We hope they will recognise our actions and that they too will also use their contacts through family and business to make the case for democracy and the rule of law,” he added.

France also urged Musharraf to restore democratic rule in Pakistan by holding elections as previously planned.

“We demand a lifting of the state of emergency and that elections be held according to the planned timetable,” French foreign ministry spokesman Pascale Andreani was quoted, as saying.

Australia has also expressed its reservations over the imposition of emergency. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer described President Musharraf as a dictator for placing the nation under emergency rule, the daily said. (ANI)

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