Bhutto rallies against emergency

Ex-PM steps up pressure on Musharraf in Islamabad as Pakistan crackdown continues.

Scores of lawyers were arrested on Tuesday as they protested against emergency rule [Reuters]
Scores of lawyers were arrested on Tuesday as they protested against emergency rule [Reuters]

Special report

Musharraf and Bhutto had been in contact for several months discussing a possible power-sharing deal after general elections due in January and the president gave her amnesty on graft charges in October to allow her to return home. 


A huge police deployment and hundreds of supporters were there to catch a glimpse of Bhutto as she headed to her Islamabad residence on Tuesday.

But she is not the only force that can bring people on to the streets.
Call to ‘rise up’
Pakistan’s ousted chief justice on Tuesday urged supporters to “rise up” to save the country’s constitution as the government continued its crackdown on pro-democracy activists.

Bhutto says she has no plans to meet
Musharraf while in Islamabad [AFP]

The authorities cut mobile phone coverage in parts of Islamabad after Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was removed from his post at the weekend, addressed a rally by phone.

“I want lawyers to spread my message to the people of Pakistan,” he said to cheers from supporters.
“The time for sacrifice has come, to rise up for the supremacy of the constitution,” Chaudhry said before all lines went dead.
A telecommunications official confirmed the government had shut down mobile services but said the move was temporary.
Nadim Baba, reporting for Al Jazeera from Islamabad, said Chaudhry was using his mobile phone to appeal to the lawyers to carry on their campaign of street protests demanding the restoration of the constitution and the lifting of the emergency measures.
The remarks were being carried live on state television when suddenly the mobile phone line went dead.

Calls to congress


Meanwhile, Musharraf is using personal persuasion to try to ward off US congressional restrictions or outright cuts in US aid to protest against his suspension of Pakistan‘s democratic system.


Your Views

“I am very worried and angry – Musharraf should realise that we don’t need him”
Avas, Islamabad, Pakistan

Musharraf telephoned Tom Lantos and Joseph Biden, both Democrats, who head the committees of the House of Representatives and the senate that deal with foreign relations.


Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate, said it was clear to him from the conversation “that President Musharraf understands the consequences for his country and for relations with the United States if he does not return Pakistan to the path of democracy”.


Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, would not to comment.


George Bush, the US president, has urged Musharraf to lift the emergency, quit the military and hold elections.
The US has put future aid to Pakistan under review, having provided $10bn in the past five years, and postponed defence co-operation talks with Pakistan due this week.


Also on Tuesday, the UN secretary-general rejected Pakistan‘s protest about his statement expressing serious concern at the imposition of emergency rule and again urged the government to release all detainees and restore democratic rule.


Munir Akram, Pakistan‘s ambassador, met Ban Ki-moon on Monday “and conveyed his protest on the issuance of a statement by him regarding the internal developments in Pakistan“, the Pakistani embassy said.


Ban “urged strongly that Pakistani government should return to democratic rules and procedures as soon as possible, and also urged the Pakistani leadership to release immediately all the detained political leaders, and lawyers and the [UN’s expert] on freedom of religion and faith”.

Crackdown continues
But the crackdown continued on Tuesday as police arrested more than 100 people demonstrating against the emergency rule.

Lawyers and opposition politicians have
borne the brunt of the crackdown [AFP]

Musharraf has detained hundreds of lawyers and opposition politicians since declaring the emergency on Saturday and also replaced a number of Supreme Court judges.

The moves were seen as attempts to pre-empt the possibility of the Supreme Court invalidating his re-election to the presidency as he still retains his post as head of the army.
And the imposition of emergency rule has raised doubts over whether parliamentary elections, expected in January, would go ahead as scheduled.
Pakistan’s cabinet discussed possibly delaying by up to three months crucial parliamentary elections, a minister said on Tuesday.
“The issue of holding elections was discussed at length, and after attending the cabinet meeting I feel that the elections may be delayed by two months,” he told the Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity.
“There will not be a delay of elections for longer than three months.
“There is no final decision.”
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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