کور / تازه خبرونه / Bhutto Rejects Caretaker Government

Bhutto Rejects Caretaker Government





By SALMAN MASOOD and DAVID ROHDE
LAHORE, Pakistan, Nov. 16 — Hours after being released from house arrest, the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Friday rejected a new caretaker government appointed by the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to oversee elections and repeated her vow not to reopen talks with him.



The police confirmed that they had ended Ms. Bhutto’s house arrest, a gesture that appeared timed to ease tensions before talks between General Musharraf and Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, who arrived in Pakistan on Friday. Mr. Negroponte is likely to urge General Musharraf to lift emergency rule, American officials have said. After his arrival, Mr. Negroponte spoke by phone with Ms. Bhutto, Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

Asserting that the country was under threat from Islamic extremists, General Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Nov. 3. He suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Supreme Court and replaced its justices, and shut down independent news stations. Since then, the authorities have arrested an estimated 2,500 opposition politicians, lawyers and human rights activists.

Speaking to reporters from behind the fence at her Lahore compound on Friday, Ms. Bhutto renewed her demand that General Musharraf resign, telling reporters that the state of emergency had been aimed at his moderate opponents, not at Islamic extremists. She also ruled out further talks. “He talked with me about the road map to democracy and imposed martial law,” she said. “He says one thing and he does the opposite.”

In an interview with the BBC on Friday, General Musharraf said it was Ms. Bhutto who wanted to avoid elections because her party would lose. He said that she was “the darling of the West,” but that “she would not like to go into an election because her party is not in a state to win at all.”

Pakistanis have widely condemned the imposition of de facto martial law, which appears to have sharply reduced General Musharraf’s popularity. The move came days before the Supreme Court was expected to rule that he was ineligible to serve another five years as president. Critics in the country have rejected General Musharraf’s argument that the emergency was required to fight extremism, saying the general is using the specter of terrorism to cling to power.

In Islamabad, General Musharraf swore in a caretaker government charged with carrying out elections scheduled for Jan. 9. Opposition parties have threatened to boycott the elections, which they say cannot be free under a state of emergency that eliminates basic rights.

Along with ending house arrest for Ms. Bhutto, government officials released several women who are political figures and human rights advocates, including Asma Jahangir, the country’s leading human rights activist, who was placed under house arrest on Nov. 3.

Opposition leaders said the moves were token measures intended to curry favor with American officials before Mr. Negroponte’s arrival. They said General Musharraf had a long history of appeasing senior American officials with conciliatory gestures during such visits.

On Friday night, two of Pakistan’s largest private television networks, Geo and ARY, were forced to halt all transmissions from the United Arab Emirates, where they had been broadcasting via satellite and the Internet after emergency rule was imposed, Western diplomats said. Mir Ibrahim Rahman, Geo’s chief executive, said Pakistani government officials had asked officials in Dubai to shut Geo down. The government of the United Arab Emirates had promised that it would not shut any stations broadcasting from Dubai Media City, a special zone for hundreds of foreign broadcasters.

“We have been given notice,” Mr. Rahman said. Officials from Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates could not be reached for comment on Friday night.
 

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