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Pakistan's Bhutto Vows To Go Ahead With Protest


Pakistan's Bhutto Vows to Go Ahead With Protest, Despite Warnings of Possible Suicide Attack

Former Pakistani Prime Minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto says her party plans a massive protest in Rawalpindi Friday against emergency rule and the suspension of the country's constitution.

Ms. Bhutto said Thursday the demonstration will go forward despite a ban on such gatherings - and warnings that suicide bombers plan to target the event.

But police in Rawalpindi have said they will not allow the protest to occur.

Earlier, Ms. Bhutto dismissed President Pervez Musharraf's announcement that general elections will take place before February 15 and that he will step down as army chief, once the Supreme Court approves his disputed re-election.

Although Washington and London welcomed the move, Ms. Bhutto called the announcement "vague." She says the opposition wants General Musharraf to hang up his uniform by November 15.

Meanwhile, protests against emergency rule declared by General Musharraf last Saturday continued in several cities. In Peshawar, police used batons to beat protesters and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Hundreds of lawyers in the capital, Islamabad, were also confronted by riot police, and a spokeswoman for Ms. Bhutto's party said police had arrested more than 1,000 party activists since Wednesday.

In other news, a Pakistani court has formally charged three politicians and a labor leader with treason for making anti-government speeches in Karachi.

The men are the first to face treason charges since emergency rule. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

ENDS

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