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Pakistan police baton-charge protesters
March 12, 2009 13:49 IST
The Pakistan police on Thursday baton-charged and arrested political activists and lawyers who defied a ban on demonstrations to set-out on a long march from Karachi to Islamabad [Images], in order to force the government to re-instate the sacked judges.
As slogan chanting crowds began assembling outside the Sindh high court, the riot police attempted to break them up by baton charging and bundling lawyers into police vans, as the country's most prominent opposition leader Nawaz Sharif [Images] declared "we are ready for the long march."
Vowing to join the marchers in Lahore [Images], Sharif accused the government of plotting to kill him, but said he won't be deterred to bring back Pakistan on the road to democracy.
"Threats to my life come from high-ranking government officials, certain topmost people in the government, my sources say," the former premier told the Guardian newspaper.
Among those arrested here were Ghafoor Ahmed, vice president of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Athar Minallah, leader of the local bar association. Ahead of the march, seen as a political show-down between erstwhile allies Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari [Images], authorities throughout the night continued their swoop rounding up scores of political leaders, right activists and lawyers in a bid to thwart the march.