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Pakistan scolds Ban for comment on "internal" matter

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Pakistan said on Tuesday it had complained to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about his statement expressing concern on what Pakistan said are “internal developments” there.

Pakistan’s U.N. mission said Ambassador Munir Akram had met Ban to convey his protest over Ban’s statement on Monday in which he said he was “greatly concerned” about the imposition of emergency rule and dismayed at the arrest of activists.

Ban said he stood by his statement and had reiterated to Akram his “deep concern and regret” about events in Pakistan.

President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Saturday citing security threats. Critics saw the move as an attempt to stop any chance of the Supreme Court invalidating his re-election as president by parliament last month on the grounds that he stood while still army chief.

Hundreds of opposition activists have been detained and lawyers have come out en masse to protest the move.

The Pakistani mission said Akram had explained to Ban “the grave and multiple challenges which had compelled the government of Pakistan to declare the emergency.”

“Its scope is restricted,” it added in a statement.

“Governance continues as close as possible to the Constitution with the Cabinet, Assemblies, Governors and other organs of the state functioning normally. Pakistan remains committed to restore normalcy, rule of law and democracy.”

Ban’s statement, issued by spokeswoman Michele Montas, urged Pakistan to immediately release those detained and to take early steps to restore democratic rule. He also called for elections to be held as scheduled.

BAN STANDS BY STATEMENT

Asked on Tuesday about Pakistan’s description of the situation there as an “internal” matter, Ban told reporters: “I stand by my statement which I issued yesterday.”

“I had the meeting with Ambassador Munir Akram at his request and I again expressed my deep concern and regret (at) what had happened in Pakistan,” Ban said, adding that he strongly urged the Pakistani government to restore democracy swiftly and release detained opposition activists.

Asked whether the United Nations should be doing more to put pressure on Pakistan, as it has done with Myanmar recently, Ban said: “Each situation has a different background and way of addressing this issue.”

Marty Natalegawa, the ambassador of Indonesia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, said no country had made any move to raise the issue of Pakistan at the council, whose mission is to address matters that present a threat to international peace and security.

One U.N. diplomat said there was no pressure to discuss Pakistan at the Security Council because it was unclear what it could do in practical terms to help resolve the situation, and Pakistan’s allies were exerting pressure in other ways.

U.S. President George W. Bush, who values General Musharraf as an ally in his battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban, has urged Pakistan’s military ruler to lift the emergency, hold elections and quit as army chief.

The European Union has urged the same and the Commonwealth, which consists of mainly former British colonies, has called a special ministerial meeting for next week on Pakistan.

Editing by Bill Trott

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