Defiant Bhutto vows more protests

Former PM joins journalists in demonstration against emergency rule in Pakistan.

Journalists all over Pakistan have been protestingagainst emergency rule [EPA]
Journalists all over Pakistan have been protestingagainst emergency rule [EPA]

“On the 13th, it [the motorcade] will go ahead. If she’s not there, the rally will still happen,” Soomro said.


Later on Saturday, the former prime minister left her Islamabad home for a series of meetings.


Bhutto was blocked by police from visiting Iftikhar Chaudry, the country’s deposed chief justice, at his home where he has been confined since emergency rule was imposed


Addressing foreign diplomats at an evening meeting, she called for support to end the state of emergency imposed by Musharraf a week ago.


“Pakistan under dictatorship is a pressure cooker. Without a place to vent, the passion of our people for liberty threatens to explode,” she said.

‘Ending emergency’


Meanwhile, Pakistan’s attorney general hinted at an early end to emergency rule.


“The state of emergency will end within one month,” Malik Mohammed Qayyum said.


Bhutto was kept under house arrest on Friday to prevent her from leading a protest in the town of Rawalpindi.


But she was freed later during the day.


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Police maintained a strong security presence at her residence in Islamabad, complete with barbed wire and concrete barriers, despite saying she was no longer under house arrest.


Pakistan‘s slide into political uncertainty has accelerated over the past week when Musharraf declared his country under emergency rule.


Thousands of his opponents have been arrested.


“The government has been paralysed,” Bhutto shouted to supporters across a barbed-wire barricade on Friday as police used batons and tear gas to break up small protests in several parts of the country.


“If he [Musharraf] restores the constitution, takes off his uniform, gives up the office of the chief of army staff and announces an election by January 15, then it’s OK,” she said.


Meanwhile, Pakistan’s government on  Saturday ordered three journalists from Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper to leave the country because of its “foul and abusive language” against Musharraf.


Musharraf has cracked down on both domestic and foreign media since the imposition of the state of emergency.




Special report

Musharraf has said elections will be held by February 15, about a month later than they were due.


He also said he would quit as army chief and be sworn in as a civilian president once new judges appointed to the supreme court struck down challenges against his re-election.


Bhutto has been holding power-sharing talks with Musharraf for months and political analysts say co-operation between the pair – which the US was earlier said to have been encouraging – is still possible.


Since the emergency was imposed, thousands of opposition figures and human rights activists have been arrested.


An interior ministry spokesman said 2,500 people had been detained, though Bhutto’s party says 5,000 of their activists have been picked up over the past few days.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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