Pakistani students briefly detain Khan at rally

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LAHORE, Pakistan, Nov 14 (Reuters) Pakistani religious students briefly detained cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan today when he emerged from hiding to join a student rally against emergency rule, witnesses said.

The episode underscored the mistrust between Pakistan's opposition parties just as former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was trying to forge unity to oppose military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Khan, who heads a small opposition party, went into hiding soon after military ruler Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3 and rounded up thousands of opposition politicians, activists, lawyers and rights workers.

He had been greeted by scores of students shouting ''go Musharraf go'' when he appeared on the campus of Punjab University in the city of Lahore earlier today.

''Jamaat-i-Islami students came and took him in there. They say they are keeping him for his safety but they basically hijacked our protest,'' said student and Khan supporter Faizal Sheikh.

About an hour later he was seen being bundled into a white van and driven off the campus, a witness said.

A spokesman for Khan's party had earlier said it was not clear if he had been detained by police or students from the opposition religious party who had been trying to block his rally.

But spokesman Saifullah Khan Niazi said the Jamaat-i-Islami students had been trying to block Khan's protest and had been ''harassing'' students and telling them not to attend.

''They are the only student union active on the campus and I guess they feel threatened,'' he said.

Bhutto contacted the leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, and Khan yesterday to discuss a united opposition, a Bhutto party official said.

REUTERS ARB RN1436

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