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October 14, 1999
More nations, newspapers condemn Pak coup
The international chorus denouncing the Pakistan coup grew today, but local newspapers said the army had been left no choice.
Yesterday, leaders worldwide condemned General Pervez Musharraf's toppling of an elected government, saying it jeopardised billions of dollars in international loans and rekindled fears of a nuclear standoff with rival India.
Amnesty International added its voice today, saying the coup resulted from a long slide in human rights abuses and a watering down of the legal process in Pakistan.
''This is a time to evaluate where things have gone wrong over the last decades and to urgently put constitutional, legal and institutional reforms in place which will at long last ensure that all people in Pakistan can enjoy the full range of human rights free from discrimination and fear,'' the rights group said.
Russia has expressed deep concern over the alarming developments in Pakistan caused by the military takeover of the administration, the Russian foreign ministry said in its initial reaction to the developments.
In a statement issued in Moscow, the foreign ministry hoped the events would not lead to destability in the country and that democracy would be restored soon.
Referring to the sharp cleavage between the civilian regime and the military in Pakistan, the foreign ministry recalled how the willingness of the Nawaz Sharief government to withdraw Pak troops from the Kargil mountains was declared by extremists and fundamentalists as ''an act of treachery'' on the part of the government.
But Moscow at the same time said rulers in Islamabad had themselves in the past extended active assistance to the Pakistani fundamentalists.
The latest events in Islamabad might make resumption of the Indo-Pak talks difficult, the foreign office felt.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon said the coup would derail economic development in Pakistan.
''When you have a coup, international financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF are reluctant to provide any credit assistance,'' he said, adding, ''so it may require a few months before official development assistance starts flowing in. We just hope there are no victims.''
New Zealand minister of foreign affairs and trade Don McKinnon said in a statement: ''The coup is a step backwards for democracy in Pakistan. It is our hope that the military will move swiftly to restore a democratic government.''
International newspapers also condemned the coup in editorials today and painted a bleak picture for Pakistan's future.
''Even if the army holds new elections soon, there may be little choice for the electorate except to change one corrupt government for another,'' Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said.
''One hopeful sign is martial law has not been declared, so democracy in theory could return relatively soon. But the enduring tragedy is that, as a democratic country, Pakistan has been unable to escape the cronyism, feudalism, incompetence and graft that stifles development,'' it continued.
Singapore's Straits Times said the army takeover would compound Pakistan's difficulties. ''The military is in no position to solve its mounting economic problems. Foreign investors will shy away because of political uncertainties. This can only create more unemployment and worsen inflation in a country that is labouring under a US 32 billion dollars foreign debt.''
''...Military rule, no matter how the general justifies it, is a backward step for his country. For this reason, the sooner Pakistan reverts to civilian rule and democracy, the better. General Musharraf risks international sanctions and opprobrium if he insists on ruling Pakistan at gunpoint,'' it added
The Asian Wall Street Journal said: ''when you're a chaotic third world nation with nuclear weapons, you don't get held to the same standards as a normal country. In Pakistan's case, this may mean that when the dust settles...The tut-tutting will give way to resignation.
''...Pakistan's generals may assume that because of the nukes they, like Russia, can get away with murder. If that impression is in any way confirmed by wobbling in Washington, or elsewhere, murder is almost guaranteed.''
In Pakistan, independent newspapers turned against Sharief on Thursday, saying his dictatorial actions forced the army's hand. ''The army has had to step in to dislodge the increasingly authoritarian, wayward and personalised government of...Sharief,'' The News said in an editorial.
''The undemocratic ways of Pakistan's elected civilian government created conditions which left the army -- the most powerful and professional institution in the country -- with no other option but to intervene,'' it argued.
The local press coverage also joined the international chorus calling for a return to democracy. ''Elections and a representative government as soon as possible are essential prerequisites,'' The Nation said.
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