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State of emergency declared in Pakistan

BY Naveed MirajISLAMABAD: Authorities in Pakistan declared state of emergency in the country on Saturday, leaving no doubt as to their commitment to the looming international campaign to hunt down those responsible for the September 11 carnage in the United States, official sources confirmed Saturday night.

Under the Pakistani Constitution, government enjoys sweeping powers to maintain public order under the state of emergency, and civil liberties are suspended.

Officials can take tough measures to disallow potentially disruptive activities including public gatherings, processions, and communication.

Together with declaration of the state of emergency, all civilian public servants on leave have been recalled to their points of duty.

Armed forces in Pakistan have already been on high alert for some time now.

Special emergency cells have been set up at the federal Ministries for Law and Finance.

A similar cell has been set up in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the two Pakistan provinces contiguous to Afghanistan.

American investigators are accusing Arab dissident Osama bin Laden of involvement in the September 11 massacre.

The Pentagon is rallying an international force to embark on a campaign to hunt down bin laden in Afghanistan, and to punish his harbourers, the extremist Taliban militia of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has voiced support for the initiative, and President General Pervez Musharraf in his address to the nation on Wednesday said his government was considering to allow air corridors and intelligence support to a US-led international force in its campaign against the terrorism.

However, some sections of the society, who sympathise with the Taliban, have voiced opposition to the president’s resolve.

On Friday, these elements brought out street demonstrations.

But officials say Pakistan’s support for the international campaign is based on its principled opposition to terrorism.

President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday said he was keen to develop Pakistan as a tolerant and progressive state, as envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam, the country’s founder.

Experts have said Pakistan is facing perhaps the most serious crisis of history, and unity and orderly conduct of the nation will be crucial to the country’s success in negotiating with it.

Observers in Islamabad say the government’s move to declare the state of emergency is reflective of President Musharraf’s steadfast determination to methodically conduct the nation through this crisis.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 23, 2001

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