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Pakistan: Musharraf Uses Anti-Terror Laws to Jail Critics
(New York, November 16, 2007) – Pakistan’s government under General Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule has expanded its crackdown on its critics by detaining hundreds of opposition activists from the country’s largest opposition party, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Human Rights Watch said today. When US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrives in Pakistan on Friday, he should publicly demand the immediate release of all protestors and Pakistan’s judiciary held in detention or house arrest since the crackdown began on November 3, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.
After Bhutto on November 13 called off power-sharing negotiations with Musharraf, activists from the PPP have faced police violence and mass arrests, particularly in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. On November 13, the government announced that it would not allow Bhutto to mount a protest march planned by her party for the same day. Bhutto and many PPP leaders have been under house arrest in the central city of Lahore since November 13. There are multiple reports of the police tear-gassing and beating protestors with batons.
“Musharraf is trying to cling on to power by beating and jailing an ever-growing number even of opposition activists,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But as Musharraf fills the jails with his critics, Pakistanis are expressing their disgust at his repressive rule through continued protests.”
November 14 saw arrests all over the country. In the city of Jhang, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States and a PPP member, Abida Hussain, was arrested and placed under house arrest after she attempted to lead an anti-Musharraf rally. The Punjab province president of the PPP, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, along with several others, was arrested in Rajewala in Punjab province while attempting to lead a protest march from Lahore to the capital Islamabad.
Human Rights Watch has received reports that hundreds of PPP supporters along the route of the party’s proposed protest march have been detained without charge to prevent mobilization for and turnout at the marchRead More