UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has firmly rejected Pakistan's protest over his statement on the imposition of emergency, insisting that it returns to democratic rules as soon as possible.
Ban also said he is in contact with the "leaders in the region" over the situation in Pakistan but has not talked to President Pervez Musharraf directly.
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, he did not identify the leaders but firmly rejected the verbal protest lodged by Pakistan's UN Ambassador Munir Akram that Ban's statement asking Islamabad to free all detainees and return to democratic rule constituted interference in the country's internal affairs.
"I stand by my statement," Ban said, adding that he had expressed his "deep and concern and regret" to Akram over what had happened in Pakistan.
"I also urged, strongly, that the Pakistani government should return to democratic rules and procedures as soon as possible, and also urged the Pakistani leadership to release immediately all the detained political leaders, lawyers, and also the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Faith (Asma Jehangir)," he said.
Earlier, a Pakistani United Nations Mission spokesman had told reporters that Akarm had lodged a protest on Ban's statement regarding "internal development" in his country.
But a press release by the Pakistani mission did not make it clear that the protest was verbal and not written.