Crackdown in Pakistan: Nawaz under house arrest (Second Lead)

March 15th, 2009 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, March 15 (IANS) Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other opposition leaders were Sunday placed under house arrest for three days as the government crackdown continued against lawyers taking out a ‘long march’ to demand reinstatement of judges sacked two years ago.
A posse of police personnel were deployed outside the Lahore residence of Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif before his party workers could leave for Islamabad to participate in a sit-in Monday over restoring the sacked judges, Geo News reported.

Punjab Police also placed under house arrest Jamat-e-Islami (JI) chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed and cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf party.

The politicians have been informed about the orders regarding their house arrest and heavy police troops deployed outside their houses, Geo News qouted police sources as saying.

In its efforts to prevent the long march from proceeding to Islamabad, the Punjab government continued to detain lawyers and leaders and workers of opposition political parties besides blockading highways in the province, Dawn News reported.

Inter-city transport came to a halt as the administration stopped buses from operating, causing inconvenience to thousands of people. Truck drivers also suspended their operation, affecting business and trade.

The highway police were instructed to search private cars and vehicles.

Apart from highways, the police placed containers and tractor trolleys that they had commandeered on the roads to stop vehicular movement.

The government move comes after Nawaz Sharif late Saturday rejected President Asif Ali Zardari’s offer of seeking a review of a Supreme Court verdict barring him and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections and said the lawyers’ stir for reinstating the sacked judges would go ahead nonetheless.

“I am declaring here that come what may, the lawyers’ long march will continue to Islamabad,” Sharif said at a rally in Lahore Saturday night, even as the government earlier in the day asked the army to remain on standby to prevent the protesters from entering the federal capital.

In a major climbdown to end the lawyers’ protest, the Pakistani government had said it would appeal against the Supreme Court ruling on the Sharif brothers and also take steps to reinstate the judges then president Pervez Musharraf sacked after declaring an emergency in November 2007.

Zardari’s reneging on the agreement had prompted Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to walk out of the coalition led by the president’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) formed after the February 2008 general elections.

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