Pakistan legislators approve emergency proclamation
Pakistan's parliament on Wednesday approved a proclamation declaring a state of emergency under which fundamental rights of citizens have been suspended and the government given extraordinary power.
The proclamation was approved by a vote of 164-49.
Khawaja Asif, chairman of the Privatization Commission, and opposition Senator Safdar Abbasi argued when several treasury members wanted to reply to a speech by Ajmal Khattak, president of Awami National Party (ANP).
Almost all of the regional parties, including Mohajir Qaumi Movement, Balochistan National Party, Jamhuri Watan Party, Jamiat-e- Ulema-e-Islam and the ANP abstained from voting or opposed declaring a state of emergency.
Ajmal Khattak warned that the federal government will use the emergency to attack political opponents and to remove the government of Baluchistan, a region governed by a coalition of several opposition parties.
Khattak said Pakistan faces the biggest threat in its history since 1971, when East Pakistan seceded from Pakistan to become Bangladesh.
There have been reports that the people of Baluchistan resent Pakistan's May 28 and 30 nuclear tests, which were carried out in the region's Chagai district without informing the provincial government.
Parliament member Zafar Alu Shah said Monday on the floor of house that Baluchistan's government might have arrested the scientists who had detonated the six nuclear devices.
Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto told reporters after the parliamentary session that the state of emergency had nothing to do with the nuclear blasts and had been imposed to rob the people of their rights and foreign currency accounts.
The government on May 28 suspended foreign currency accounts held by Pakistani citizens in anticipation of a possible default in repayment of foreign loans and to bypass sanctions imposed by the western countries.