UN rights chief "alarmed" over Pakistan

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GENEVA, Nov 5 (Reuters) United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today she was alarmed over the suspension of rights and imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan by President Pervez Musharraf.

She also called on the Pakistani authorities to clarify the status of lawyers and rights activists detained or placed under house arrest, including UN special investigator on freedom of religion and belief, Asma Jahangir.

''A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary,'' said Arbour, a former Canadian supreme court judge.

The authorities, she said, should ensure ''that no one is detained for the peaceful exercise of their political beliefs''.

REUTERS PD ND1930

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