US, UK support for president criticised—>DAWN

The United States and other western nations have ignored rights abuses in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf has tilted the electoral playing field by rewriting the constitution and firing the independent judiciary, the Human Rights Watch charged on Thursday.

In its annual report, the group criticised the US and Britain for refusing to condition assistance to the government on improving pre-electoral conditions and for ignoring undemocratic acts by President Musharraf because of his support for the “war on terror”.

It charged that Mr Musharraf imposed an emergency in November to head off a Supreme Court ruling on the legality of his re-election and crack down on a movement for judicial independence.

“Thousands of lawyers and political opponents were arbitrarily detained in 2007, most of the country’s senior judges sacked and harsh curbs imposed on the media, it said. “The US, UK and EU all issued statements urging Musharraf to end the state of emergency, release those arrested, and hold free and fair elections. However, their actions did not match their words,” it said. “By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without demanding they uphold the civil and political rights that make democracy meaningful, the influential democracies risk undermining human rights worldwide”, it said.