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Military spokesman Rashid Qureshi
"The people of Pakistan have rejected these tried out politicians"
 real 28k

Monday, 30 April, 2001, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Musharraf bans democracy rally
Pakistani riot police outside Nishtar Park in Karachi
Riot police seal off the planned rally venue
Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has said he will not allow opposition parties to hold a planned pro-democracy rally on Tuesday.

The authorities in Pakistan's commercial city of Karachi have deployed hundreds of riot police and paramilitary troops to prevent the marchers from going ahead with the event.

The venue of the intended rally at the city's Nishtar Park has been cordoned off.

We will not tolerate any instability

Pervez Musharraf

Mr Musharraf has accused the opposition politicians of trying to create instability in the country.

Speaking at an official function in Islamabad, Mr Musharraf said: "Those who are useless politicians should stay at home. We will not tolerate any instability."

He called on those present to not allow the politicians to "use May Day for their vested interests".

Opposition persevere

But the opposition's main grouping, the 16-party Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, says it will still try to go ahead with the rally.
Lawyers in Quetta torch Musharraf's provisional constitutional order
Many want the army to return to their barracks

"The reports we have say they have closed down roads leading to Nishtar Park...but we still think we can manage it," said Shaffi, a member of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML).

"We won't be coming in one group... we will be entering from different places and we were discussing why not change the venue," Mr Shaffi added.

Raids

At the same time, security forces in Karachi and the rest of Sindh province continued with their raids to arrest more opposition supporters.

Nearly 1,000 people have already been rounded up, including several key leaders of the opposition alliance.

Mr Musharraf, who toppled prime minister Nawaz Sharif's government in a military coup in October 1999, has banned outdoor political gatherings and suspended parliament and the constitution

The military leader has promised to return Pakistan to democracy before October 2002 but the ARD wants early elections.

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See also:

27 Apr 01 | South Asia
Pakistan condemned for arrests
17 Mar 01 | South Asia
Pakistan may lift opposition media ban
12 Oct 00 | South Asia
Pakistan: Still out in the cold?
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Pakistan sets election timetable
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Profile: General Pervez Musharraf
21 Mar 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Democracy or lip-service?
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