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Archive for March 13th, 2009

Day 2 of the Long March

[Image from the NY Times]

The Long March began from Karachi and Quetta yesterday amid further police crackdowns, reports of torture, and numerous arrests. According to BBC News today, “Authorities in Pakistan’s north-west have banned political gatherings and a protest convoy [led by Supreme Court Bar Association president Ali Ahmed Kurd] has been halted in Sindh as a crackdown on activists spreads. The BBC quoted Kurd, who strongly condemned the Sindh government for halting their peaceful march, adding, “We will try to reach Islamabad by other routes and appeal to all Pakistanis to reach Islamabad in groups or as individuals by any possible means. This action of the government has shown to the people of Pakistan and the entire world that lawyers cannot move freely in their own country.”

Dozens of lawyers and political leaders were arrested in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) overnight.” Although the movement was supposed to reach Islamabad for a sit-in at the Parliament on Monday, the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan noted “that while protests will continue throughout Pakistani cities and activists may try to reach the capital in small groups, the crackdown has effectively ended the ‘long march.'” Protest organizers told the BBC that more than 1,000 opposition leaders and activists have already been jailed or put under house arrest, and police last night arrested dozens of lawyers, political leaders, legislators and activists in the districts of Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad and Mansehra last night. Dawn quoted Arshad Qureshi, PML-N spokesman of the NWFP, who said, “More than 100 party leaders and workers were arrested in the province and police are raiding houses of party leaders and activists.” And it’s not just activists and lawyers who are being targeted, apparently. Curiously [or not so curiously, depending who you talk to] the transmission of Geo News has been blocked in some parts of the twin cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Quetta. (more…)

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