Police have been out in force across Pakistan, arresting people involved in the Long March, a week-long protest rally across the nation which began today under threats of retaliation by government figures. Hundreds of thousands of lawyers are expected to take part in the march, along with untold numbers of opposition figures and average citizens protesting the imposition of emergency rule by the government earlier this week.
Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister and opposition leader at the forefront of the growing protest movement, publicly castigated the government again today for the mass arrest of political opponents under the guise of national security. Sharif characterized the Zardari government as a “democratic dictatorship.” Amid rumors of an assassination plot in the works, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has ordered the Punjab governor (who took over after the ouster of Sharif’s brother) to provide “foolproof” security for Sharif.
Figures across the spectrum of Pakistan’s opposition parties have stood out against the growing crackdown by the Zardari government, which now includes bans on public gatherings across much of the nation. Even some in Zardari’s own party have expressed support for the opposition protests, with many feeling that their own history of being silenced by a national government through a President declaring emergency rule just a year ago draws some uncomfortable parallels.
An up-to-date list of all articles on the events leading up to the Long March is available here.