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November 19, 1999
Treat Sharief fairly, impartially: US
The United States has asked for due process, good treatment and quick verdicts in the cases of Pakistani politicians accused of corruption or defaulting on bank loans.
At least 28 Pakistanis, including many politicians, have been arrested in an anti-corruption drive by the military rulers who overthrew prime minister Nawaz Sharief last month.
Sharief himself may appear in court today. A complaint accusing him and four others of criminal conspiracy, hijacking, kidnapping and attempted murder was filed last week.
US state department spokesman James Rubin showed yesterday some sympathy for the motives of the military rulers, led by General Pervez Musharraf, who was Sharief's army chief before the coup.
''Pakistan has major economic problems, due in part to serious corruption over the past decade. Unrepaid loans have indeed drained billions of dollars from the economy,'' he said.
But he added, ''We hope the government will address this problem in an expeditious and transparent manner. Those arrested should not be mistreated, should receive due process that fully respects their rights, and a quick resolution of their cases.''
He said he could not say if the Pakistani authorities had failed to meet these expectations.
On plans to try Sharief, he said, ''We are monitoring it carefully, obviously. We have repeatedly urged that Mr Sharief and all others be treated fairly and impartially and in accordance with international standards of due process.''
The United States has urged General Musharraf to restore democratic government in Pakistan but it has not said that Sharief should regain the premiership.
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