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13 October 1999

 
  

White House Report, October 13, 1999

(Pakistan, CTBT) (550)

U.S. WANTS EARLY RETURN TO CIVILIAN RULE IN PAKISTAN

The White House said October 13 that it wants the earliest possible
restoration of civilian rule in Pakistan, where the military ousted
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif October 12.

"We want the earliest possible restoration of civilian rule consistent
with democratic principles and the constitution," White House Press
Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters at his early morning briefing
with them.

Pakistan's army chief General Pervez Musharraf, whom Sharif tried to
remove October 12, announced on state television that the army had
moved in to save a deteriorating situation and said he would soon
announce his intentions on policy.

"The military has indicated publicly that they plan to make their
intentions known soon, and we have urged that that be done soon and
that there be a restoration of democracy," Lockhart said.

"We will be watching that very closely," Lockhart said, adding that
the United States was still trying to piece together information about
precisely what had happened in Pakistan. He said he had no information
about the condition of Sharif, taken into custody by the military.

"We have been reaching out on a variety of diplomatic levels to make
contact, to get information," Lockhart said. "We're still concerned
and will continue to work until we get a clearer picture of what's
going on on the ground."

The United States "regrets once again that political events have led
to a setback for democracy and the constitution in Pakistan," Lockhart
said.

Lockhart said the United States government is maintaining close
contact with the government of India.

He said President Clinton was to receive a briefing October 13 from
his national security team on the situation on the ground in Pakistan,
as well as the situation with regards to the Senate vote on the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In addition, Lockhart said he expected
the briefing to include details about a major drug bust in Colombia.

WHITE HOUSE SAYS CTBT SHOULD NOT BE PUT OFF UNTIL NEW PRESIDENT

Asked about whether there will be a Senate vote on ratifying the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Lockhart said Senate Democrats are
working amongst themselves with the Senate leadership on a plan to put
off such a vote.

Both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge that there are not enough
votes in the Senate for ratification. Under the U.S. Constitution for
a treaty to be ratified, 67 of the 100 Senators, or two-thirds of
those voting, must vote for ratification.

The Republican leadership wants the Democrats to promise not to bring
the treaty back to the floor of the Senate until 2001, following the
Presidential elections.

But Lockhart said the White House, and Senate Democrats have made
their view clear on this: "We don't believe it is in our national
security interests to make a blanket statement" like that -- "that no
matter what happens in the world, no matter what our national security
interests are, that we won't talk about something, that we won't bring
something up."

"The issue is now whether Senate Republicans want to delay this treaty
or whether they want to vote this treaty down," the Press Secretary
said.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State)