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Detained Human Rights Official Warns Pakistan Could Become 'The Next Burma'

A leading human rights activist under house arrest in Pakistan says emergency rule may turn her country into the "next Burma."

Asma Jahangir, head of the Human Rights Committee of Pakistan, told VOA in an interview she fears President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown on his opponents may force dissidents to give up and result in the country becoming a dictatorship.

Jahangir also criticized the president's strategy of imposing emergency rule to quell Islamic militants. She said the move has emboldened extremists to gain strength because instead of fighting militants, Mr. Musharraf is focused on clamping down on pro-democracy activists.

Jahangir also denounced U.S. reaction to Pakistan, saying the Bush administration is sending mixed signals by continuing to support him as an important ally to the United States. She said at a minimum, the U.S. should stop supporting General Musharraf morally and politically.

The human rights activist predicted that if Musharraf stays on as president of Pakistan, the country will eventually be run by a military government that protects militants.