WHouse calls for early end to Pakistan emergency

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CRAWFORD, Texas, Nov 9 (Reuters) The White House today called for an early end to the state of emergency in Pakistan and urged all sides to refrain from violence.

''Free and fair elections require a lifting of the state of emergency,'' said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

''We therefore continue to call for an early end to that state of emergency and the release of political party members and peaceful protesters who have been detained,'' he told reporters in Texas, where President George W Bush is staying at his ranch.

Police blocked former Prime Minister Benazir 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.

''We also continue to call on all sides to refrain from any violence and to work together to put Pakistan back on the path to democracy,'' Johndroe said.

The White House said it continued to push for Musharraf to give up his military position and hold elections.

''We're going to hold him to his commitments, but more importantly I think the people of Pakistan will hold him to his commitments to have elections and take off the uniform,'' Johndroe said.


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