Kayani meets Gilani, threatens to impose emergency in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Mar.11 (ANI): Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Asfaq Parvez Kayani met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday morning and reviewed the deteriorating law and order situation in the country on the eve of the proposed "Long March" from Karachi to Islamabad by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

According to highly placed sources, General Kayani told the Prime Minister that the army could not be a silent spectator to the worsening situation, and added that unless the situation was not brought under control in the next four days, the army would take steps for imposition of an emergency, suspension of all assemblies (national and provincial) and dismissal of President Asif Ali Zardari.

He further said that in the event of that situation, the army would immediately nominate a caretaker interim set-up, which would replace the PPP-led coalition government.

General Kayani's warning came as the government cracked down on opposition activists in various parts of the country, including Karachi, Multan and Lahore. Dozens of political activists and lawyers were arrested in Islamabad and across the Punjab on Wednesday in a bid to thwart the planned "Long March" on the capital, police said.

Thirty-five political activists and lawyers were arrested in Islamabad during raids launched overnight and continuing beyond daybreak, a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Those rounded up include members of the PML-N, which is headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was last month disqualified from contesting elections.

A top leader in Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party, Raja Zafarul Haq, was placed under house arrest, police said.

Police dressed in civilian clothes attempted to arrest lawyers' movement leader Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan from his residence early Wednesday morning, but he was not present at the time.

Many lawyers and MPs have gone into hiding to avoid detention, and were unreachable by telephone at their homes and offices.

Police also searched in vain for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who lives just outside the capital.

In Lahore police confirmed further arrests after authorities banned protests and ordered paramilitary troops to be on alert in a bid to prevent this week's planned 'long march' demanding legal reforms.

Punjab MPA Iftikahr Baloch's house was raided and eight people were arrested from there.

Women Action Forum's Tahira Abdullah was detained for three hours. She has now been released.

Similar raids also took place in Vehari, Gujranwala, Shaikhupura, Faisalabad and Sialkot.

Pervez Malik, a local leader in PML-N, said police raided the homes of party MPs and arrested 'dozens' of workers in Lahore.

Ameer-al Azeem, the Lahore chief of opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami said that 'some 15 to 20' workers in the organisation's youth wing had been detained.

In Multan district, police arrested 28 workers from opposition parties, district PML-N chief, Allah Nawaz Noorani.

There was, however, no immediate confirmation on the numbers from police.

Meanwhile, in Abbotabad, Sharif asked the nation to get ready for offering sacrifices for a revolution in the country.

Addressing a charged rally here on Wednesday, he said the time had come that the people should come on streets to change their destiny. He asked the people to take part in the long march of lawyers, if they wanted to change their fate.

He charged President Zardari with again introducing the politics of horse-trading in the country.

He lauded the efforts of Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Sardar Mehtab Khan and Pir Sabir Shah for the restoration of deposed judges and supremacy of constitution.

"Today is a defining moment in Pakistan's history. We can change the destiny of this country. Pakistan stands at a crossroads today and it is your duty to save it. We want to change this outdated system because it poses a danger to our existence and they want to charge me for sedition," he told a rally of thousands of supporters, who cheered and waved party banners. (ANI)

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