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Pakistan lawyers' long march enters second day, more arrested
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20:08, March 13, 2009

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The lawyers' demonstration in Pakistan entered the second day on Friday when more lawyers and opposition group members have been reportedly put under house arrest.

The demonstrators who participate in the so-called "long march" is due to reach Islamabad on March 16 to stage sit-in outside the parliament house, demanding restoration of judges sacked by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2007 when he imposed emergency rule.

The Pakistani government has imposed a prohibitory order banning public gathering in many cities across the country, citing security reasons, in order to stop the nationwide demonstration from entering the capital.

Hundreds of political activists and lawyers have been arrested in Punjab and Sindh provinces over the past three days, an opposition leader Pir Sabir Shah said.

Shah, a central leader of the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said that the police raided houses and offices of political activists and lawyers on Thursday night and Friday.

Interior Ministry Advisor Rehman Malik has said that the marchers will not be allowed to stage sit-in outside the parliament house in Islamabad.

Reports also said motorways leading to Islamabad will remain closed on March 15 and 16.

But another senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the marchers will reach Islamabad on March 16 as scheduled despite arrests across the country.

The "long march" has plunged the troubled country into another political crisis a year after the new government took office.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, also the PML-N chief, said that his party will continue the demonstration for democracy and independent judiciary despite the raids and arrests.

Sharif broke up with the ruling coalition led by Pakistan's People's Party (PPP) last year due to political rift over the deposed judges.

Musharraf sacked the chief justice of Pakistan and 60 other top judges when he imposed emergency rule in November 2007.

The PML-N decided to participate in the long march after a Supreme Court verdict banned him and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from holding office last month.

The verdict has removed Shahbaz Sharif from the office of chief minister of eastern Pakistan's Punjab province, the country's largest and richest province where the PML-N holds power.

Nawaz Sharif has accused President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the PPP co-chairman, of standing behind the verdict.

Source: Xinhua

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