Authorities crush Pakistan protests
Updated on 05 November 2007
Police have used teargas and batons to break up protests by lawyers opposed to President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule
In Karachi, Pakistan's economic capital, police baton-charged dozens of lawyers outside the High Court. While in the eastern city of Lahore, teargas was used against lawyers after they ransacked the office of the chief justice of Punjab who had sided with the government.
Around 200 lawyers were arrested in Lahore and dozens more in Karachi.
Karachi lawyer Abdul Hafeez told Reuters that he was prepared to fight, "We are not scared of these arrests. We will continue our fight, come what may."
Police also held several judges at their homes after they refused to swear allegiance following Musharraf's introduction of emergency rule. They included Chief Justice Ifitakhar Chaudhry, who became a symbol of resistance to Musharraf's rule when he resisted pressure to quit in March.
'We are not scared of these arrests'lawyer Abdul Hafeez
The main opposition party in Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami said the authorities had detained around 600-700 of its supporters in southern and central provinces overnight. Authorities had also arrested 400-500 political opponents and lawyers opposing Musharraf as a "preventative" measure.
Restrictions have been imposed on the media to avoid outrage spilling onto the streets. Musharraf had to quell rumours that he was under house arrest amid the sense of uncertainty surrounding Saturday's action.
"Many people in Pakistan believe that it has nothing to do with stopping terrorism, and it has everything to do with stopping a court verdict that was coming against him," the former prime minister said. Bhutto heads Pakistan's largest opposition party and her next move is being eagerly awaited.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voiced disappointment at Musharraf's action.
"The United States has never put all of its chips on Musharraf," she said.
Before announcing emergency rule, there had been suggestions that Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto would share power after the elections if he agreed to quit the army.