Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has called on Pakistanis to come out on the streets to press the government to end emergency even as the authorities moved swiftly to thwart attempts by her party to mobilise people for protests.
Bhutto, who flew into the capital from the southern city of Karachi on Tuesday to consult other opposition leaders on steps to oppose the emergency, said a public meeting scheduled for November 9 in the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi for the election campaign would now be "a show of strength".
"I appeal to the nation to join the protest and show their power. When people will come out, pressure will mount. The people will have to fight for the restoration of the constitution and democracy and to save the country," she said at her home in Islamabad late last night.
Bhutto also said her Pakistan People's Party would not attend a session of the National Assembly convened at 5 pm on Wednesday by President Pervez Musharraf and would instead stage a protest outside Parliament along with other opposition parliamentarians.
In a late night order, the government of Punjab province banned the holding of a public meeting by the PPP in Rawalpindi on November 9.
An official spokesman said the holding of large public meetings was generally inadvisable due to the possibility of bomb attacks. Political parties should refrain from holding public meetings and rallies and any violation of the ban would be dealt "with the full force of law", he said.