Pakistan’s Bhutto detained again

Ex-PM served seven-day detention order hours before she was to lead protest march.

bhutto pakistan
Police have cordoned off the street near the house where Bhutto is staying [AFP]

But as hundreds of extra police moved in around the Lahore home of a party official where she was staying, setting up barricades on streets, a senior government official said her procession would not be allowed.


‘Assassination target’


Aftab Cheema, the Lahore police chief, said outside the house that Bhutto had been served with the week-long detention notice.

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But a party spokeswoman vowed the protest would go ahead.


“Our plan is on. Definitely she’ll try to come out. We will start our procession from here and if they try to stop us, the whole of Punjab will be a battleground,” Fazana Raja said.


Police have said Bhutto could be the target of a suicide assassination bid, like the one that killed 139 people at a rally last month welcoming her back from eight years in self-imposed exile.

Last week, police blocked her from leaving her Islamabad home to hold a rally in the nearby city of Rawalpindi.


Bhutto was not the only one facing restrictions as Al Jazeera found out in Lahore.
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Opposition leaders speak out

Correspondent James Bays met several opposition politicians in hiding or under virtual house arrest, including Imran Khan, the former cricketer now head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Tehmina Daultana, an MP close to exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Qazi Hussain Ahmad, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

All said it would be impossible to contest an election under the emergency rule Musharraf imposed on November 3.


Commonwealth pressure


Musharraf, who suspended the constitution, sacked most judges, locked up lawyers, rounded up thousands of opposition and rights activists and curbed the media, has come under mounting pressure from Western allies to set Pakistan back on the path to democracy.


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

He said on Sunday general elections would be held by January 9 but declined to say when the constitution would be restored, saying the emergency rule would ensure a free and fair vote.


Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and George Bush, the US president, on Monday urged Musharraf to lift the emergency.


And the British Commonwealth gave Musharraf 10 days to lift the state of emergency or have the country suspended from the group.


While suspension would be largely symbolic, it could have implications for development assistance.


Pakistan was suspended in 1999 following the military coup that brought Musharraf to power but readmitted in 2004 after perceived progress on democratic reforms.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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