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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan cracks down on opposition ahead of anti-government march

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, March 11, IRNA -- Opposition parties in Pakistan say the government has launched a country-wide crackdown against them ahead of an anti-government march on the capital Islamabad.

Lawyers and opposition parties will start a long-march on Thursday from the port city of Karachi and the southwestern city of Quetta to press for the restoration of judges sacked by former president Musharraf in emergency rule.

The government of eastern Punjab province banned rallies for a month and the police started raids on houses of opposition leaders and arrested scores of them, Siddiq-ul-Farooq, spokesman for opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said.

The authorities put under house arrest chairman of PML-N party Senator Raja Zafar-ul-Haq in Islamabad, the party said.

President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Ali Ahmed Kurd said that the police in some parts of the country raided houses of the representatives of lawyers. But he said that the long-march will be launched in accordance with its schedule.

Other opposition parties Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehrik-e-Insaf and Jamiat Ahli-Hadith also said that the police rounded up dozens of their workers late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The government has not yet commented on the crackdown claims.

Local media also reported large-scale arrests and raids on the houses and offices of the opposition parties.

In southern Sindh province, the authorities put under house arrest the chief a nationalist group Mumtaz Bhutto.

Mumtaz Bhutto is the uncle of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, but is heading his own party Sindh National Front.

Reports from several major cities say that the police have arranged containers to block roads when the march will start journey towards Islamabad.

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