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Pervez Musharraf begins EU tour

world Updated: Jan 21, 2008 10:10 IST

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Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has embarked on a four-nation European visit to bolster Pakistan's image amid a demand from Amnesty International that he take immediate measures to end human rights violations in Pakistan.

Musharraf on Sunday arrived in Brussels, capital city of Belgium and met members of the Pakistani community. His official programme starts today as he is scheduled to visit Britain, France and Switzerland.

"The eight-day visit to Brussels, Paris, London and Davos is a wholesome package, with focus on improving Pakistan's image and removing certain misperceptions," Musharraf said shortly before his departure from Islamabad on Sunday.

Coinciding with his visit, the Amnesty International, the global human rights body urged the European leaders to prevail upon Musharraf to end human rights violations in Pakistan.

"As Musharraf embarks on a tour of Europe.., those who meet him have both the responsibility and opportunity to demand that his government bring an end to the human rights violations in Pakistan," Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan said in a statement.

"Arbitrary arrests, detentions, enforced disappearances, and torture and ill-treatment - coupled with pervasive political violence undermine the prospect of free and fair elections planned in February, she said.

"Amnesty International has collected a wealth of evidence on human rights violations and the breakdown of rule of law, which are sowing the seeds of a political catastrophe, with devastating consequences for ordinary people.

"The international community must give a clear and unequivocal message to President Musharraf that restoring respect for human rights and the rule of law is key to establishing confidence of in the forthcoming elections and arresting the spate of political violence in Pakistan.

Pakistan is slated to go to polls on February 18.