General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan declared a state of emergency in response to growing protests across the country. Lawyers in Islamabad continue to demonstrate despite the clampdown. Pakistan’s deposed chief justice, Iftikhar M. Chaudhry, and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto demanded restoration of the constitution and the holding of free elections.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Chaudhry, addressing supporters for the first time since being placed under effective house arrest Saturday night, declared that “this is the time to sacrifice” — language that appeared to suggest that mass street protests should go ahead even if they result in bloodshed.
The former justice, who this year has become an emblem of resistance to Musharraf’s rule, spoke by cellphone to about two dozen lawyers who crowded into the small offices of the Islamabad Bar Assn. Hundreds more lawyers, wearing their “uniform” of black suits and ties, gathered outside, listening in on loudspeakers.
The New York Times reports that Bhutto is calling for demonstrations as well:
Dramatically escalating political tensions in Pakistan, the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, announced today that her party would carry out a mass demonstration on Friday and a protest march next week if the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, refuses to end a state of emergency and hold elections in January.
Ms. Bhutto’s statements set up an immediate confrontation with General Musharraf, who has declared a state of emergency since Saturday, suspending the country’s Constitution, arresting scores of protesters and shutting down independent television news outlets. Under General Musharraf’s emergency decree, all public protests are banned.
A good friend’s mother lives in Karachi and has been calling her son in the U.S. to find out what’s happening. “What’s going on?” she asked, “we have no electricity.” “You’re under a state of emergency,” my friend replied. “That’s fine” she answered, “we just want our power back on.” She lives on a block populated by Benazir Bhutto supporters so the government is making things difficult for her and her neighbors, regardless of political sympathies.
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