Istanbul, Turkey The Bush administration said Saturday it was deeply disturbed by the state of emergency in Pakistan and urged a swift return to a democratic and civilian government. The Pentagon said Gen. Pervez Musharraf's declaration does not affect U.S. military support of Pakistan, however.
The stakes are high and Defense Secretary Robert Gates is closely monitoring the fast-developing situation, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
"Pakistan is a very important ally in the war on terror," Morrell told reporters aboard Gates' plane as he traveled to China.
The emergency declaration "does not impact our military support of Pakistan" or its efforts in the war on terror, Morrell said of the country that's a key U.S. partner in the fight against al-Qaida militants.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is taking the U.S. lead in dealing with the situation, Morrell said. Rice said that, to her knowledge, Bush administration officials had yet to hear from Musharraf since his declaration Saturday.
"The U.S. has made clear it does not support extraconstitutional measures because those measures take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule," Rice said after attending an Iraq neighbors conference in Istanbul. "Whatever happens we will be urging a quick return to civilian rule."
Adm. William J. Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, met with Musharraf and other top generals on Friday to discuss the security situation in northwest Pakistan. But Fallon did not threaten to cut off U.S. military aid to the Pakistani government, Morrell said. And he said he has "no sense at this point that there is an imminent review" planned to look at whether aid should be affected.