Islamabad: Embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will decide today whether to impose emergency rule due to “external and internal threats,” a government spokesman said.
Official sources said late on 8 August they believed that a proclamation of a state of emergency was likely following the meeting next day at the president’s camp outside the capital Islamabad.
“The president will chair a meeting to decide about a state of emergency in the country,” said one source who asked not to be named.
Deputy information minister Tariq Azeem confirmed the measure had been discussed and could not be ruled out, as Musharraf battles an upsurge in militant violence in the volatile tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
“I cannot confirm whether a decision has been taken or not,” Azeem said late om 8 August.
The President had been considering imposing emergency rule since 7 August, when he met with prime minister Shaukat Aziz and other senior aides, the officials sources told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Among concerns raised at that meeting were the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas, which have become staging posts for Talban and Al-Qaeda operatives, and threats by US officials and presidential hopefuls to take unilateral military action against the militant bases, the sources said.
The possibility that Musharraf will declare an emergency coincides with his decision, announced on 8 August, not to attend a key three-day tribal council in Kabul the next day, aimed at ending Taliban and Al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorism.
Musharraf told Afghan President Hamid Karzai he could not attend due to “engagements in the capital,” opting to send Aziz in his place.
“People are seriously worried about external threats to Pakistan,” Azeem said, adding that lawmakers had termed the situation “a very serious matter” during a debate in parliament.
Musharraf has been angered by accusations from Washington that Pakistan has become a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and a regrouped Taliban.
Azeem said the security situation was deteriorating in North West Frontier Province — ruled by an alliance of Islamic parties — and that military operations in the border areas were resulting in “loss of precious lives”.
“Keeping in mind the prevailing situation, one cannot rule out the possibility that the provision of the constitution relating to imposition of emergency be issued,” he said.
An emergency proclamation would limit the role of the judiciary, curtail civil liberties, restricting freedom of movement, association and expression.