Emergency a setback for Pakistan: US envoy

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Islamabad, Nov 13 (UNI) The United States today said that Pakistan's move toward democracy has suffered a serious setback by imposition of emergency on November 3.

''The United States is urging Pakistan government not to throw away in weeks what it has taken years to achieve,'' US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W Patterson said while speaking at the National Defense University here today.

Mr Patterson's remarks came against the backdrop of a seven-day detention order slapped on former Prime Minister Benaizr Bhutto in Lahore today, from where she had announced to lead a long march from Lahore to Islamabad.

Bhutto said she would never serve as Prime Minister with President Pervez Musharraf, who should step down for his failure to deliver the goods. As she made these remarks, dozens of Pakistan Peoples Party workers were arrested in Lahore while attempting to launch the long march.

The US Ambassador said, ''Our Embassy and our consulates have tried to make sure that American business representatives know that Pakistan is a good place to do business, and I have always highlighted the enormous economic opportunities which your country offers.'' The senior American diplomat said that Pakistan's economic progress, particularly the seven per cent annual economic growth, has been one of the greatest accomplishments of President Musharraf's administration.

''The November 3 imposition of state of emergency put this economic growth of Pakistan and upward mobility at risk. This is an ominous development, Mr Patterson added.

She urged that for the elections to be credible, the government must release opposition party leaders and workers from jail or house arrest, and the media must be free to report on events and criticise the government.

UNI

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