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Pakistani regime continues crackdown on opponents
Thursday, November 15, 2007 :Arrests in Pakistan continued yesterday with the detention of opposition leader Imran Khan in the eastern city of Lahore while attending a student protest. Khan, who had been in hiding since military strongman General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on November 3, had publicly announced that he would be attending the rally to set a student protest movement in motion.
Several hundred students, chanting “Go, Musharraf, Go” and “No to Emergency!” had gathered at the University of the Punjab, one of the country’s oldest universities, to meet Khan. He was lifted into the air by students on his arrival by car, but was then apparently detained by others affiliated with the rival Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party who handed him over to police. Khan, a former cricketer, heads the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which he founded in 1997.
Lahore police chief Malik Mohammad Iqbal told the AFP newsagency that Khan, who is being held at an undisclosed location, would be charged under the anti-terrorism laws. “Through his speeches he has been inciting people to pick up arms, he has been calling for civil disobedience, he has been spreading hatred,” Iqbal said. In other words, any political opposition is now deemed to be part of Musharraf’s “war on terrorism” and subject to draconian penalties.
Exact figures on the number of people detained are not available. According to a USA Today report, police have rounded up more than 7,500 supporters of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto. Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said: “In the first three days, they arrested 5,000 of our supporters. Some of us are in hide-outs. The moment we go out, they pick us up. That has momentarily caused a setback.”Read More