Churches call for Pakistani Government to lift state of emergency

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church ofScotland, the Methodist Church, the Religious Society of Friends(Quakers) and the United Reformed Church made the followingstatement today in relation to the constitutional crisis inPakistan :-

'While we welcome the announcement by President Pervez Musharraf tohold a general election in January we call on the Government ofPakistan for an immediate lifting of the current state ofemergency.

'Over the past year a range of groups and faith-based partners inPakistan have shared with us their increasing anxiety over damageto democratic process and the independence of the judiciary. Wesupport the call of many for the restoration of democratic processin Pakistan; for the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges; forGeneral Musharraf to step down as the chief of the Army staff; forimpartial oversight of elections; for the release of politicalprisoners and for an end to harassment of journalists.

'Security can only be achieved in an environment in which peopleare able to exercise their democratic rights and we call on the UKGovernment and international community to urge the Government ofPakistan to take all measures necessary to enable free and fairelections. We continue to hold the situation in our prayers andlisten carefully to many in Pakistan who earnestly desire peace,security and stability.'