Bhutto blocked from Pakistan rally

Police prevent former prime minister from leaving her Islamabad home.

    Police rounded up Bhutto supporters outside her Islamabad villa [AFP]

    "Do not raise hands on women. You are Muslims. This is un-Islamic," she shouted at police who blocked her.
     

    Your Views

    "I am very worried and angry - Musharraf should realise that we don't need him"
     

    Avas, Islamabad, Pakistan

     

    Send us your views

    "I want to tell you to have courage because this battle is against dictatorship and it will be won by the people," she told her supporters, before returning to her home.
     
    Bays said that Pakistani officials were saying there was a possibility Bhutto would be allowed to leave her home on Saturday.
     
    Police also arrested at least 30 workers from her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) outside her Islamabad home as she tried to leave.
     
    Rawalpindi violence
     
    Hundreds of her supporters had gathered in Rawalpindi, setting fire to tires in the streets and hurling stones at police, who responded with tear gas shells from an armoured personnel carrier.
     
    Dozens were reportedly arrested.
     
    PPP leaders claimed police have arrested 5,000 of its supporters since

    Dozens were reportedly arrested
    in Rawalpindi [Reuters]

    Wednesday to head off the major rally.
     
    "It is a massive crackdown on our party," Raja Javed Ashraf, a PPP legislator, said.
     
    Attiya Inayatullah, who chairs the party's foreign affairs committee and is a member of Musharraf's PML-Q party, told Al Jazeera from Lahore that "no-one" had the right to violate the law regarding protests.
     
    "It is in the interest of all political elements in this country that we move to a peaceful election, a national election ... rather than protesting," she said.
     
    Javed Iqbal Cheema, spokesman for the interior ministry, said authorities had stopped the rally for "security concerns" because suicide bombers had gathered in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
     
    However Bhutto said the police should arrest the bombers.
     
    "I don't want Pakistan to become Iraq. I have to save you, I am not afraid of death because it is in the hands of God," she said.
     
    The Pakistani government deployed 6,000 police officers in Rawalpindi to prevent the planned rally against the state of emergency imposed by Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, last week.
     
    Suicide blast
     

    Bhutto's home in Islamabad was
    surrounded by armoured vehicles [AFP]

    Meanwhile in Peshawar, north-west of Pakistan, a suicide blast at the home of a Pakistani government minister killed four people, state-run Pakistan television said.
     
    Amir Muqam, minister of political affairs, was unhurt in the blast.
     
    "The bomber wanted to kill me, he came into my residence and clearly I was the target," Muqam told AFP news agency.
     
    "I am not scared. I have survived two attacks in the past."
     
    Police had earlier broken up a protest against emergency rule in the city.
     
    Elections
     
    On Thursday, Musharraf said elections would be held before February 15 and reiterated he would step down as chief of the country's army while maintaining the presidency.
     
    Special report

    National elections had originally been scheduled for January but appeared in jeopardy after Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Saturday, citing rising tribal fighting.
     
    Unrest began in Pakistan after Musharraf's attempt to oust the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, led to protests.
     
    The judge was later reinstated but then sacked and placed under house arrest following the Pakistani president's imposition of emergency rule.
     
    Bhutto returned to Pakistan following years of exile last month, however her welcome convoy in the southern city of Karachi was hit by two suicide bomb attacks, killing at least 135 people.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The man we call 'Salman Rushdie' today is not the brilliant author of the Satanic Verses, but a Picassoesque imposter.

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The story of Shula Cohen, aka The Pearl, who spied for the Israelis in Lebanon for 14 years.