Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was not allowed to leave her house in the capital of Islamabad Friday to lead a rally against the state of emergency, according to local press reports.
Supporters of Bhutto, chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), planned to hold a rally in Rawalpindi, a city some 30kms south from Islamabad, against the state of emergency imposed last Saturday by President General Pervez Musharraf.
PPP officials said that police had cordoned off Bhutto's residence in Islamabad, but denied speculations that she has been placed under house arrest ahead of the protest rally.
A government official was quoted as saying that the police cordon was to protect the former prime minister.
The Pakistani government has deployed 6,000 police officers in Rawalpindi to prevent the rally.
Police Friday completely sealed off the venue for the protest in the garrison city adjacent to Islamabad.
Political gatherings have been banned under the emergency decree.
Saud Aziz, the Rawalpindi police chief, said that "under no circumstances" will the rally be allowed.
"The law will take its course against anyone who defies it," he said. PPP claimed that police had arrested 5,000 of its supporters since Wednesday to head off the major rally.