Negroponte expected in Pakistan today

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: The Bush Administration’s special envoy to Pakistan and Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte is expected to arrive here on Friday on a visit that could see pressure being piled on President Pervez Musharraf from a close ally to lift the Emergency.

U.S. envoy in Lahore, Principal Officer Bryan Hunt, who was allowed by the government to meet the Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto, under house arrest, on Thursday after a long wait at the barricades, said later that his government was concerned at the continuing Emergency and wanted Gen. Musharraf to “move rapidly” towards restoring democracy.

He said that as part of this, Gen. Musharraf would need to step down as Army chief, lift curbs on the media, free all political prisoners and allow political parties to conduct their campaign for the coming election freely.

Ms. Bhutto said no meeting was scheduled with Mr. Negroponte, but she would welcome one.

Gen. Musharraf issued an ordinance amending the Nov. 3 provisional constitutional order, to empower the President to repeal the PCO and revoke the Emergency.

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