White House criticizes blocking Pakistan's Bhutto

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WACO, Texas, Nov 9 (Reuters) The White House today called for Pakistani authorities to allow former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to leave her home and said it remained concerned about the continued state of emergency.

Police blocked opposition leader Bhutto from leaving her home in Islamabad and sealed off the capital to stop a rally against Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf who imposed emergency rule last weekend.

''Former Prime Minister Bhutto and other political party members must be permitted freedom of movement and all protesters released,'' Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said.

Two buses and an armored personnel carrier blocked the road outside Bhutto's house.

''It is crucial for Pakistan's future that moderate political forces work together to bring Pakistan back on the path to democracy,'' Johndroe said.

The White House had welcomed Musharraf saying elections would be held by February. 15, about a month later than they were due.

But today, the spokesman was expressing lingering concerns about the situation.

''We remain concerned about the continued state of emergency and curtailment of basic freedoms, and urge Pakistan's authorities to quickly return to constitutional order and democratic norms,'' Johndroe said.

REUTERS YA RK2030

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