Pakistan Declares Emergency Rule, Detains Lawyers and Dissenters

By Monday, Musharraf, who faced international criticism for suspending the constitution and dismissing part of the nation’s Supreme Court, was telling diplomats he would quit as army chief and become a civilian president.

“I am determined to execute this third stage of transition fully and I’m determined to remove my uniform once we correct these pillars in judiciary and the executive and the parliament,” he said in comments aired on state-run television, Reuters reported.

The Pakistani government also said it would hold national elections by mid-January as planned.

Musharraf seized power in 1999 and was re-elected to a five-year term in October. His current term ends Nov. 15.

Since his election, the Supreme Court has been deciding whether he can legally be president and still remain the army chief.

After declaring emergency rule on Saturday and suspending the constitution, Musharraf ousted independent-minded judges who did not support the emergency rule. Clashes between protesting lawyers and police in cities such as Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi over the weekend resulted in hundreds of arrests, according to the Associated Press.

Police also reportedly arrested opposition politicians and activists, and independent television news networks remained off the air Monday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed to review U.S. aid to Pakistan, which has amounted to $10 billion since 2001 when Musharraf promised to help track down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the United States “cannot support emergency rule or the extreme measures taken.”