Pak crackdown on Oppn intensifies

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Islamabad, Sep 24: The massive crackdown on the Opposition ahead of the October 6 Presidential polls in Pakistan has intensified with dozens of All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) activists detained late last night.

As many as 35 leaders of the APDM were arrested on Saturday night, including Muttahida Majlis Amal leaders Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, Mian Muhammad Aslam and Javed Hashmi of PML-N in the name of maintaining public order.

Many of the local leaders of PML-N, MMA and Jamaat-e-Islami went underground. Imran Nazir, media secretary of PML-N Punjab, confirmed that five activists were detained in the city and news of more arrests were coming, The Nation reported.

Most leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the PML-N and MMA, including Jamaat chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad and MMA's Liaquat Baloch have left for the NWFP in the wake of the large-scale crackdown on the opposition activists.

Several PML-N leaders and workers were also detained in Lahore and their houses raided.

''General Musharraf wants to be re-elected by holding presidential election while keeping all his opponents in jail. This is yet another example of violation of human rights and dictatorship,'' Secretary Information PML-N Ahsan Iqbal alleged.

Mr Iqbal said the Parliament Lodges was an important place where the parliamentarians from different areas of the country resided, while reacting to reports that police have surrounded them. He said rounding up Members of National Assemblies and other political leaders right in front of the Parliament House was ''making a mockery of the democratic system''.

However, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azeem said the ''preventive detentions'' were justified. ''These people were threatening to storm the Supreme Court and attack the Election Commission. No government can allow them to take the law into their hands,'' Azeem said.

''Some leaders are under preventative detention to ward off any threat to law and order to protect the sanctity of the institutions,'' he said.

The office of City Deputy Commissioner, in a release yesterday, said in view of calls given by certain political parties for staging protest rallies adjacent to sensitive public buildings, pre-emptive arrests had been initiated in the federal capital.


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