03/13/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Lawyers’ protest continues as government warns against attacks

Qaiser Felix
Laywers’ “long march” to Islamabad against President Zardari continues. They say about a thousand people have been arrested. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan compares government action to Musharraf’s military rule.
Karachi (AsiaNews) – Lawyers continue to protest against the Zardari administration. Demonstrators claim that more than a thousand people were arrested or held by police yesterday but reiterated that they will continue until the reach the capital for a sit-in next Monday.

Iqbal Haider, co-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), criticised the “government’s anti-democratic decision” to ban all demonstrations, saying that it is “disturbingly similar to the path military ruler Pervez Musharraf had taken against dissent and peaceful protest.”

Aitzaz Ahsan, the former Supreme Court Bar Association president, said that “the government crackdown can’t dampen our spirits. In fact, it will only add fire to our passion”.

However, the government confirmed its intention to ban demonstrations in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh.

Rehman Malik, advisor to the prime minister on home affairs, spoke before the Senate saying that the intelligence services had warned the government that the “long march” was in danger from terrorist attacks, adding that the Sharif brothers were possible targets.

The two leading figures of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz) joined the lawyers yesterday in their protest against the president.

Party founder Nawaz Sharif condemned the decision imposed by what he called a “dictatorial government,” claiming that he was aware of a plan by some elements within the government wanted to kill him.

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