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Admiral: U.S. warned Musharraf against emergency declaration

  • Story Highlights
  • Chief of U.S. Central Command met with Musharraf before declaration
  • U.S. military relationship with Pakistan under review, Adm. William Fallon says
  • U.S. uses Pakistan for access to many operations in Afghanistan
  • U.S. watching to see whether al Qaeda tries to capitalize on Pakistan unrest
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pakistan's president was warned that declaring a state of emergency in the country would put U.S. relations at risk, a top U.S. commander said Monday.

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The move to impose emergency rule puts U.S. relations with Pakistan at risk, Adm. William Fallon says.

Adm. William Fallon, the head of the U.S. Central Command, met with President Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan a day before Musharraf's emergency declaration and told him that the United States did not support such an action, Fallon said.

"I told him the idea of doing this was not a good one and that there might be alternatives," Fallon said in a phone interview from Kyrgyzstan.

"These actions put our relationship at risk," Fallon said.

He noted that the American military relationship with Pakistan is under review because U.S. legislative requirements could "come into play," potentially requiring cutoffs in aid.

While Musharraf said the growing threat of terrorism and judicial activism made the suspension of the constitution necessary, opponents said the Pakistani leader was trying to avoid an upcoming Supreme Court decision that could have ruled he was ineligible for another presidential term.

By imposing a state of emergency, Musharraf not only suspended the constitution but also put elections that had been set for January on indefinite hold.

In addition, media outlets have been censored and 35 independent television stations shut down.

Pakistan's government said more than 1,500 lawyers and political activists have been arrested across the country and police are blocking access to courthouses. Political opposition figures also have been rounded up. Video Watch what Pakistan's opposition thinks of the emergency declaration »

Musharraf did not directly inform Fallon of his decision during their Friday meeting, which U.S. Embassy officials also attended. But it was clear what Musharraf planned to do, according to senior U.S. officials familiar with what was said in the meeting.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that Washington was not consulted before Musharraf declared the state of emergency Saturday.

Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, and other senior diplomats met with Musharraf on Monday to discuss the crisis, the U.S. Embassy said. It did not disclose what was said.

Fallon said he told Musharraf that people would be "dismayed" and that "both of our countries had a lot at risk in the war on terror." The four-star admiral said he emphasized his concern about "the unforeseen consequences" of the crackdown.

The U.S. military relies on access to Pakistan's airspace, roads and bases for a great deal of its operations in Afghanistan.

Fallon said Musharraf expressed "his concern about the domestic situation inside the country" and the "challenges" he personally felt he was facing.

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Fallon also said the United States is watching to see whether al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri try to take advantage of the unrest.

On the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, Fallon said, "I feel very confident they recognize the gravity of their responsibility and will act appropriately." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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