LAHORE, Nov 4: Police and other law-enforcement personnel launched a crackdown across the country on Sunday, apparently fearing a large-scale protest campaign against imposition of emergency.
Opposition politicians, prominent lawyers and rights activists were detained in large numbers in several cities and towns of the country.
Prominent among those detained included PML-N acting president Javed Hashmi, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, former ISI director-general Gen (retd) Hameed Gul and rights activists I.A. Rehman and Iqbal Haider and hundreds of other people on the second day.
Police detained over 600 people in Lahore. Javed Hashmi was arrested from Multan. I.A. Rehman and Iqbal Haider were lodged at Asma Jehangir’s house. Ms Jehangir has been under house-arrest since Saturday evening.
Around 70 civil society activists were arrested when they gathered at a Joint Action Committee meeting of the HRCP in Garden Town to discuss the situation after the imposition of emergency.
Lahore District Bar president Mohammad Shah, Lahore High Court Bar Association president Ahsan Bhoon, advocates Ashtar Ausaaf, Khalid Hussain and Iftikhar Bhatti were also arrested.
The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Isnaaf claimed that over 1,200 and 50 activists, respectively, had been detained in two days of crackdown.
In Rawalpindi, police rounded up nearly 60 people, including a retired judge, the former ISI director-general, lawyers and human rights activists.
Officials said that around 400 ‘preventive arrests’ had been made across the country.
Shortly after the imposition of emergency, police and paramilitary personnel started patrolling the federal capital territory and Rawalpindi and erected barricades and barbed wires on roads leading to the Supreme Court building and set up sand bunkers at exit and entry points.
A red-alert was declared in all prisons in Punjab and jail staff were called on duty on Sunday night.
Aitzaz Ahsan, the newly-elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), who was arrested from Islamabad on Saturday night, was sent to the Adiala jail. Former SCBA Munir A. Malik was shifted to the jail on Sunday morning.
Gen (retd) Hameed Gul, his son Abdullah Gul, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood, colonel (retd) Iftikhar Baig and advocates Mian Sanaullah and Afzal Ahmed were arrested on Sunday and taken to the Adiala jail.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam leaders Abdul Hameed, Hafiz Mohammad Shaukat, Hafiz Nazeer and Omer Farooq and PML (N) leader Mansab Khan were arrested in Rawalpindi. Police also picked up several other people and are conducting raids on homes of lawyers and political activists.
A senior police official said: “There is no specific target for arrests, but our main concern is to foil Monday’s protest announced by opposition parties and lawyers.”
Shops were open, but traffic was thin on roads and markets were deserted.
In Attock, police detained PML-N city president and UC naib nazim Dr Sheikh Waseem and city vice-president Dr Sheikh Waseem Saddique.
PML-N’s UC councilor Abid Hanif, PML-N Attock secretary information Mubaris Khan and Haji Iqbal of Jamaat-i-Islami were also arrested.
Many lawyers and political workers went underground to avoid arrest.
Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan was placed under house-arrest in Charssada. He told reporters that through one order, the NWFP home secretary had issued his detention for one month while through another order his residence had been declared a sub-jail by the government.
Mr Khan said that in fact Gen Musharraf had imposed martial law against the judiciary. “Under the Constitution, only the president could impose emergency on the advice of the prime minister, but in the present case the army chief issued the proclamation of emergency which was unconstitutional,” he added.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the ANP peace committee, presided over by senior vice-president Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, was held on Sunday. It vowed to resist the imposition of emergency.
In Nwabshah, police picked up PPP leader and Nawabshah District Bar Association general-secretary Zia-ul-Hassan Lanjar from his office.
In Sukkur, police arrested Imdad Awan, acting chief of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and Shahryar, son of Shabbir Shar, general-secretary of the Sindh High Court Association (Sukkur chapter).
In Hyderabad, three activists of the Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party were held on charges of forcibly closing shops.
In Quetta, police sources confirmed that two lawyers were arrested and they were conducting raids in different areas to arrest lawyers and political activists.