Musharraf resistant to U.S. pressure as envoy visits

first_imgBut there were also some ominous signs, with the broadcasts of two major independent television news stations – Geo and ARY, both of which transmit from nearby Dubai – being cut. Both stations said Dubai took action in response to pressure from Musharraf. GEO broadcast a continuous video of a thunderstorm at sea, with its logo floating on the choppy waves. “The pressure was so intense from Gen. Musharraf,” Shahid Massood, Geo Group executive director, said from Dubai.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s military ruler faced intense U.S. pressure Saturday to end emergency rule and restore democracy, with Washington’s No. 2 diplomat personally delivering what many here see as a sharp warning from a once staunch ally. Whether President Gen. Pervez Musharraf was ready to listen was the question. He says the two-week long emergency – which has seen opponents jailed, judges purged and independent TV stations muffled – is needed to hold a peaceful vote in the country beset by an increasingly potent Islamic insurgency. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte’s trip was seen as a last best chance to persuade him and avoid political turmoil in Pakistan, a key front in the War on Terror. The diplomat was expected to make his only public comment at a news conference scheduled for early today, just ahead of his departure. Negroponte met for more than two hours with Musharraf and Pakistan’s deputy army commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, said an official in the president’s office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk with the media. Kayani is widely expected to take over the powerful role of military chief in the coming weeks when Musharraf sheds his uniform and starts his second term as president in the coming weeks. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre The official said Musharraf told Negroponte the emergency was needed to hold a successful vote. He wouldn’t say what Negroponte had told Musharraf, and U.S. officials weren’t talking. But going into the meeting, senior Bush administration officials were clear on what they wanted: an end to the emergency, a date set for legislative elections in January, the release of opposition leaders and that Musharraf step down as army chief. “We want to work with the government and people of Pakistan and the political actors in Pakistan to put the political process back on track as soon as possible,” Negroponte said Friday during a stop in Africa. He arrived in Pakistan a few hours later and phoned former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the highest-level U.S. contact with the Pakistani opposition leader since the emergency began. In their discussion, Negroponte underscored Washington’s opposition to the emergency and its desire to see her and other opposition figures free to peacefully take part in Pakistani politics, said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. The conversation came just hours after Bhutto was released from house arrest, one of a number of face-saving measures the government took ahead of the senior American diplomat’s arrival. A prominent human rights activist was also released, and several opposition television news stations were allowed back on the air. last_img read more