Pakistan’s main opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, has vowed to continue protests against the government of General Pervez Musharraf even as the military authorities prevented her from meeting deposed Chief Justice Ifthekar Muhammad Chaudhry in Islamabad on Saturday.
“He is the chief justice, he is the real chief justice,” Bhutto blared over a megaphone, demanding all the judges sacked by General Musharraf, be reinstated.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief announced that she will be leading a “long march”— from Lahore to Islamabad — against the government in the coming week.
Earlier, Benazir was placed under house arrest on Friday to prevent her from attending a party rally in Rawalpindi.
On Saturday, she left her Islamabad home for the first time after the detention order was withdrawn.
She left her house to address a protest by journalists against emergency rule. “I have come here to express solidarity with you. I condemn these curbs,” Bhutto told the crowd using a microphone, referring to restrictions on the media imposed by Musharraf.
Bhutto’s appearance at the rally in central Islamabad was a surprise, pulling up in her bulletproof car before getting out to address around 200 media workers. “We believe in freedom of expression. My fight is also for this,” she said. “The war against dictatorship will continue, we are for freedom, we are with the media.”
Pakistan’s attorney general Malik Mohammad Qayyum, meanwhile, said emergency rule could be lifted within a month. “It is mainly because of the law and order situation in some parts of the country. We hope it will continue to improve as it is improving now,” Qayyum added.
“It is the government policy to continue the state of emergency till it is needed but the situation is improving and it will be lifted in a month,” the government’s top lawyer told a private TV channel.
“The state of emergency will be lifted by the mid or end of next month,” he said.