Pak­istan ar­rests op­po­si­tion ac­tivists

The Covington News - - WORLD -

IS­LAM­ABAD (AP) — Pak­istani po­lice ar­rested anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers in what ac­tivists said was an ef­fort to crack down on week­s­long sit-ins in the cap­i­tal, while the gov­ern­ment said po­lice only ap­pre­hended sus­pects in a re­cent at­tack on state-run TV.

The party of famed crick­eter-turned politi­cian Im­ran Khan, who is lead­ing one of two ma­jor protests de­mand­ing the gov­ern­ment’s res­ig­na­tion, said a large num­ber of party ac­tivists were de­tained in overnight raids be­gin­ning late Fri­day in Is­lam­abad and else­where. He did not pro­vide an ex­act num­ber.

“We are sus­pend­ing talks with the gov­ern­ment over th­ese ar­rests,” party leader Je­hanghir Ta­reen told a news con­fer­ence.

Anti-gov­ern­ment cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who has been lead­ing par­al­lel demon­stra­tions, said po­lice had also de­tained his sup­port­ers, and that he too would be sus­pend­ing talks over the ar­rests.

Pak­istani news chan­nels had ear­lier showed sev­eral de­tained sup­port­ers of Qadri and Khan ar­riv­ing at a lo­cal court in two prison vans. Khan’s party lead­ers and dozens of ac­tivists briefly clashed with po­lice as they tried to break the locks of the vans to free the de­tainees.

Po­lice even­tu­ally pushed them back, and Is­lam­abad po­lice chief Tahir Alam warned that any­one at­tack­ing the po­lice vans would be ar­rested.

Khan and Qadri ar­rived in the cap­i­tal last month in mas­sive con­voys that had set out from the east­ern city of La­hore. Since then thou­sands of demon­stra­tors have been camped out­side par­lia­ment de­mand­ing that Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif re­sign over al­leged vot­ing fraud in last year’s elec­tion.

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