UN's Ban expresses 'dismay' about Pakistan emergency

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 5 (Reuters) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he was greatly concerned and dismayed by the imposition of emergency rule and the detention of human rights activists in Pakistan and called for a swift end to the crisis.

Two ambassadors on the UN Security Council, including US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, said there was no prospect of the council addressing the situation in Pakistan at present.

''The secretary general is greatly concerned about the recent developments in Pakistan and the imposition of emergency rule,'' Ban's spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters.

''He expresses his strong dismay at the detention of hundreds of human rights and opposition rights activists including the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief,'' she said.

Earlier United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said the UN special investigator on freedom of religion and belief, Asma Jahangir, had been detained.

Ban urged Pakistan to immediately release those detained and to take early steps to restore democratic rule, Montas said. He called for elections to be held as scheduled.

The Security Council met today for a regular discussion of the situation in Lebanon and Khalilzad said no representative had raised the question of Pakistan.

The White House said today US President George W Bush was urging Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to quickly return to civilian rule and release people detained under an emergency decree.

The UN Security Council's remit is to address matters that present a threat to international peace and security.

Asked by reporters whether the United States would raise the situation in Pakistan in the council, Khalilzad said: ''There's no plan to raise the issue of Pakistan.'' Marty Natalegawa, the ambassador of Indonesia, which holds the rotating presidency of the council, confirmed that. ''It's a subject matter we're looking at but it's not, for our knowledge, something that will be brought before the council.'' REUTERS NC AS0018

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