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Pakistan Opposition Parties Call for End to Emergency Rule


Pakistan: Pakistan's opposition parties have called on President Pervez Musharraf to lift a state of emergency, saying the upcoming parliamentary elections will be meaningless if held under emergency laws.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Sunday that the emergency laws will make campaigning difficult. Ms. Bhutto is in Lahore, where she plans to lead a protest march Tuesday against the state of emergency
Speaking in a U.S. television interview ( on ABC) Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice welcomed General Musharraf's plans to hold parliamentary elections by January 9th and his stated desire to step down as army chief.
She said those are essential steps to get Pakistan back onto a democratic path, but so is lifting the state of emergency.

Pakistan Sdbr: Security: Global security experts are worried that the instability in Pakistan could result in nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Islamic radicals.
Numerous U.S. officials say that of the world's nine declared and undeclared nuclear arsenals, none provokes as much worry in Washington as Pakistan's. Some Pakistani territory is controlled by insurgents.
Concerns about possible thefts if President Pervez Musharraf loses control of his government or the military extend to nuclear components, design plans and special materials such as enriched uranium.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told CNN that Pakistan is in a very dangerous situation. He urged U.S. officials to consider more than whether Pakistan is being ruled democratically, saying he would put securing Pakistan's nuclear weapons at the top of the U.S. agenda.

Burma: A United Nations human-rights investigator for Burma has visited a notorious Burmese prison for political detainees as part of his probe of the military-ruled country's recent bloody crackdown of pro-democracy protests.
Reporters saw U.N. envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro leave Burma's Insein prison in Rangoon after visiting for more than an hour today (Monday).
He also is expected to try and meet with political detainees during his visit and learn the actual death toll from the recent protests.
Burmese officials say 10 people were killed and about three thousand arrested during the protests, but diplomats and human-rights groups argue that the true figure is much higher in both cases.
Pinheiro returned to Burma on Sunday for the first time since 2003.
He has already traveled to the town of Bago (80 kilometers to the north of Rangoon) to visit monasteries there that were targeted during the government crackdown and met with officials at Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon.

Cambodia – Khmer Rouge: Cambodian police have arrested former Khmer Rouge officials Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith and brought them before a U.N.-backed tribunal to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
A court spokesman said they were arrested for their part in the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of an estimated one-point-seven million people, most of whom died from overwork, starvation or murder.
Authorities blocked the road before entering their luxurious Phnom Penh villa. Ieng Sary is a former foreign minister and his wife, a former social affairs minister.
Two other former Khmer Rouge leaders have already been arrested on charges of war crimes.

ASEAN Charter: Observers say a draft charter for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations provides little detail on the protection of human rights.
A Bangkok-based non-governmental organization that offered ASEAN recommendations on the issue said the draft was not clear enough. Focus on the Global South's Jenina Chavez said ASEAN must protect the rights of those living in the region if it wants to establish itself as an influential regional body.
The 30-page draft calls for the creation of a human rights body, but only devotes two paragraphs to the topic.
The document was leaked to media just days before member organizations are expected to sign the document at a meeting in Singapore.
Following the recent crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Burma, ASEAN has come under pressure to reconsider its principle of non-interference in the affairs of member states.

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