Pakistan politician raps West's reply to Musharraf

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LONDON, Nov 5 (Reuters) A leading Pakistani politician voiced disappointment today at Western governments' response to President Pervez Musharraf' imposition of emergency rule and said only a democracy could fight extremism.

''We are disappointed by Western governments in terms of how they've condemned Musharraf's latest draconian law,'' Shehbaz Sharif, head of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML) told a news conference in London.

''What we expect from them (Western governments) is to ensure that if this law is not rolled back, and Musharraf does not step back ... then they must cease to support him,'' Sharif said.

Washington has said it will review billions of dollars of aid to Pakistan after Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Saturday, thwarting US hopes of a transition to a civilian-led democracy.

Britain said today it was considering whether Musharraf's action would affect British aid.

Sharif said the West supported Musharraf to fight extremism.

''Our point has been that only an elected dispensation by the will of the people can fight this menace of extremism. God knows what amount of money has gone into the military sector.'' ''He has miserably failed. Eight years on it's a military coup against his own self.'' Sharif took over as PML leader when his brother, former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was arrested and deported to Saudi Arabia in September within hours of arriving home after years of exile vowing to end Musharraf's rule.

Another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, returned from self-imposed exile last month with Musharraf's blessing and amid speculation that the pair could share power after elections that had been expected in January.

Asked if the PML felt it could still trust Bhutto after her attempts to strike a deal with Musharraf, Shehbaz Sharif said: ''It's not a question of trust. It's a question of saving Pakistan's future, of saving Pakistan from a setback we will never be able to recover from.'' ''If you are able to find a meeting point, why not?'' He said he hoped his brother, Nawaz, would be in London sooner rather than later.

REUTERS NC RK2050

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