12 Mar :Pakistan detained hundreds of activists Wednesday on the eve of a mass protest against the government, as demonstrators defied a ban on gatherings to slam President Asif Ali Zardari.
As the Army reportedly demanded that the political leadership quickly defuse the rising tension, the political crisis sparked off by a Supreme Court order barring Sharif and his brother Shabaz, both leaders of opposition PML-N, from contesting elections, deepened with the government ordering the arrest of hundreds of opposition activists and lawyers.
The arrests came on the eve of a ‘long march’ from Lahore starting on Thursday and culminating in Islamabad on 16th March.The government has issued warrants for arrest of several senior figures in the opposition including fromer cricket captain-turned-politician Imran Khan, who is said to have gone underground, and imposed prohibitory orders in Punjab and Sindh provinces.
Defying the ban, Nawaz Sharif held a big rally in Abbotabad in NWFP where he said Pakistan was facing a dangerous situation and told his supporters to defy restrictions imposed by the government and "join hands to change the country’s destiny".
Sharif also alleged that tensions with India had increased under the PPP-led government.Gilani said Governor’s rule in Punjab to be reviewed
In a bid to reach out to opposition PML leader Nawaz Sharif locked in a confrontation with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani tonight said his government did not want Governor’s rule to be prolonged in Punjab province and that this issue will be reviewed on Thursday.
"We don’t want governor’s rule to be prolonged in Punjab province," Gilani said addressing senators in remarks seen at variance with the position taken by Zardari. Gilani made the comments when Zardari was not in Pakistan and was travelling abroad.
Governor’s rule was imposed in Punjab on 25th February following a presidential order after Shabaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz Sharif, was removed as chief minister following a Supreme Court verdict disqualifying him. The Court also banned the former premier from contesting elections.
"Whoever has the majority should form the government," he said."Surely, a party enjoying the mandate should form the government," said Gilani, who is known to be at loggerheads with Zardari.
Noting that Pakistan was now at the cross roads, Gilani said, "The Charter of Democracy will help resolve issues " he added."We don’t want institutions to be weakened," he said, adding "we promise you(the people) we will deliver on promises to the nation."