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Japan urges Pakistan to restore democracy

world Updated: Nov 06, 2007 09:03 IST

Japan on Tuesday warned Pakistan not to abandon the path to full democracy following the imposition of a state of emergency, but said it had no immediate plans to suspend aid.

"Pakistan is in a process of growing as a democratic nation, and we must be concerned if (the current situation) sets the process back," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura.

He said Tokyo wanted Islamabad to "overcome" the suspension of the constitution by President Pervez Musharraf, a move that has triggered international criticism, particularly from Western nations.

Machimura said Japan had no plans for now to freeze aid to Pakistan, which has a population of 160 million.

"As for international assistance, we have no immediate plan to do anything, but we will have to decide the government's stance by monitoring developments. At this point, we have not made any decision," he said.

Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, cited growing Islamic extremism and hostile judges for imposing emergency rule over the nuclear-armed nation on Saturday.

He suspended the constitution, sacked the country's top judge and instituted strict media curbs.

But Musharraf also vowed on Monday that elections, planned for January, would be held "as close as possible to the schedule", boosting hopes for a transition to full democracy.

Japan resumed full assistance to Islamabad in 2005 after a hiatus following nuclear tests by Pakistan and its rival India in 1998.