Nawaz Sharif placed under house arrest (Lead)

March 15th, 2009 - 12:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, March 15 (DPA) Pakistani authorities Sunday placed opposition leader and two-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif under house arrest, his party spokesman said.
Sharif had planned to head an anti-government rally from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad and a sit-in in the federal capital for independence of judiciary Monday.

Ahsan Iqbal, the spokesman of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said the former prime minister has been detained at his residence in Lahore together with his nephew and a member of parliament and dozens of supporters.

“Hundreds of policemen have surrounded the residence. It is very unfortunate, undemocratic. But this will not defeat our determination,” Iqbal said over phone.

He said the party workers would continue to head to Islamabad for the rally, dubbed the “Long March”. Sharif would be kept under house arrest for three days.

Police have arrested more than a thousand activists in an attempt to prevent the Islamabad rally.

The political turmoil has raised concerns in Washington and other Western capitals which want President Asif Ali Zardari and Sharif to end their feud and join hands against Islamic extremism.

The house arrest of Sharif came a day after Zardari’s government announced concessions for Sharif.

A presidential spokesman said late Friday the government would appeal a controversial court ruling that barred Sharif from elected office, and pledged to resolve the issue of reinstatement of judges sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf, the two main demands of the opposition.

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