Sunday, November 4, 2007

Yay Pakistan?

Security forces were reported to have rounded up about 500 opposition party figures, lawyers and human rights advocates Sunday, and about a dozen privately television news stations remained off the air. International broadcasters, including the BBC and CNN, were also cut.

The crackdown, announced late Saturday night after General Musharraf suspended the Constitution, was clearly aimed at preventing public demonstrations that political parties and lawyers were organizing for Monday.

“They are showing zero tolerance for protest,” said Athar Minallah, a lawyer, and a former minister in the Musharraf government.

In Islamabad, police forces continued to block the Parliament and Supreme Court buildings. But the day was mostly quiet, and there was no formal curfew. Several small protests were broken up, including one involving a two dozen people who scuffled with the police before being subdued and taken away.

Police officers armed with tear gas broke up a meeting at the headquarters of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission in Lahore and took dozens of people away in police vans, including elderly women, school teachers and about 20 lawyers, according to people at the meeting. In all, about 80 lawyers were detained, and many others who faced arrest warrants remained in hiding, according to members of a nationwide lawyer’s lobby that has grown increasingly influential as an anti-Musharraf voice.

The head of the human rights commission, and one of Pakistan’s most prominent democratic figures, Asma Jahangir, was placed under house arrest Saturday night. Among others arrested were Javed Hashmi, the acting president of the political party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and workers of the political party of the opposition leader, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Full Story: NY Times

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