Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back from the brink?

Saturday's supposed lifting of emergency rule and restoration of the constitution in Pakistan met with mixed reaction in the troubled country, according to the Reuters international news service, and with good reason. President Pervez Musharraf announced the decision in a nationally televised address last night, but left many new rules in place that dismayed opposition leaders. Members of the Supreme Court who were removed by Musharraf to block an expected ruling against the former army commander remain under house arrest, and limits on dissent and press freedom also remain. Musharraf said emergency rule was lifted because of progress in the battle against Islamic militants in northern Pakistan. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose party is expected to oppose Musharraf's candidates in next month's parliamentary elections, called the announcement "an important step forward" but said "more needs to be done for the restoration of democracy." Nuclear-armed Pakistan is considered a vital ally of the United States in the war against terror, and has received billions of dollars in aid in recent years.

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