Musharraf defends emergency rule.


Musharraf defends emergency rule.


Mr Musharraf may find it hard to convince critics he did the right thingPakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has said his emergency rule saved the country from destabilisation.
Speaking just hours after he lifted the state of emergency, Mr Musharraf also pledged that January's general election would be "fair and transparent".
He imposed it on 3 November, arresting hundreds of people, sacking Supreme Court judges and curbing the media.
Its lifting has been widely welcomed as an important step forward, says the BBC's Jill McGivering in Islamabad.
But there is still a long way to go before the political environment here is seen as conducive to free and fair elections, our correspondent says.


Musharraf's promise
In a televised speech to the nation, President Musharraf said he had been forced to impose the state of emergency "as a last resort".
The democratic process has been put back again on the rails
Pervez MusharrafPakistan's President
He said the country had faced a conspiracy within the judiciary and the threat of instability amid a surge in attacks by militants.
"Thanks be to God, we have defeated that conspiracy... The wave of terrorism and militancy has been stopped under the emergency and there had been considerable improvement in the overall situation," he said.
President Musharraf also said he was giving "commitment to the people of Pakistan and to the outside world that the elections are going to be absolutely fair and transparent".
The emergency rule was ended one day earlier than Mr Musharraf announced back in November.
His first act upon restoring the constitution was to swear in new members of Pakistan's Supreme Court, giving the oath of office to new Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.
Iftikhar Chaudhry, the sacked former chief justice, remains under house arrest.
The president's position had seemed in peril when he declared the state of emergency, says our correspondent in Islamabad.
Under Mr Chaudhry, the country's top judges seemed about to declare his re-election as president illegal because he had refused to step down from his role as head of the army.
He later relinquished that role and was confirmed as president for a new term by the remodelled Supreme Court.
Independent judges have been sacked and replaced, and media freedom has been curtailed, and Mr Musharraf's position is now more secure, our correspondent says.


Doubts remain
Two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, have returned to Pakistan from exile recently and plan to contest January's elections.
Lawyers have been at the forefront of opposition to the emergency
The two head separate parties and failed to agree on a joint boycott of the polls, so have pledged to fight Mr Musharraf at the ballot box.
Ms Bhutto said the lifting of the emergency was an "important step forward", but said more needed to be done before Pakistan's democracy was fully restored.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the move was a "significant step towards the return of full constitutional order", but said he had told Mr Musharraf that January's elections must be free, fair and transparent.
Musharraf defends emergency rule. Musharraf defends emergency rule. Reviewed by Sarah Peracha on 10:16:00 AM Rating: 5

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