Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pakistan releases 3,400 jailed under emergency rule

I imagine that the former chief justice is also still behind bars. It is interesting that Bhutto has never been put in jail. Even when her house is under siege she still manages news conferences!
I am a bit surprised that Musharraf would leave to visit Saudi Arabia during this time period. He must either feel that there is no danger of a takeover while he is gone or else he knows there is a takeover coming and has arranged a nice soft landing and retirement abroad.

Pakistan releases 3,400 jailed under emergency rule
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2007 | 8:44 AM ET
CBC News
More than 3,400 people jailed in Pakistan under the broadened powers of emergency rule have been released in recent days, the country's Interior Ministry said Tuesday.


Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said 3,416 prisoners have been released, while 2,000 still remain behind bars.

Many of those detained since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency on Nov. 3 were lawyers, human rights activists and political opponents who were arrested for defying a ban on public demonstrations.

Among those still detained are a number of high-ranking opposition party members and leaders, including former cricket star Imran Khan, who began a hunger strike Monday to protest emergency rule.

Under increasing international and domestic pressure, Musharraf has been rolling back some of his most unpopular measures.

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The prisoner release came hours after Musharraf's hand-picked Supreme Court judges dismissed legal challenges to his disputed re-election as president while still holding his post as army chief.

The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Musharraf end emergency rule, step down as army chief, end media restrictions and release opposition members.

Opponents have accused the military ruler of cracking down on dissidents rather than Islamic extremists, the reason he said he enacted an emergency state.

He has also been accused of imposing emergency rule and purging the Supreme Court ahead of a decision that was likely to find his presidency illegal.

Musharraf left for a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah.

The Pakistan president often visits Saudi Arabia, a close ally.

Some had speculated Musharraf might reach out to his staunchest opponent, Nawaz Sharif, while visiting Saudi Arabia.

Sharif was deposed by the general in the 1999 bloodless coup and then exiled.

The two have no plans to meet, Sharif was quoted as saying in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper on Tuesday.

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