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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Clashes at Pakistan democracy rally
Woman arrested by police officers
Police moved swiftly to make arrests
Police in the Pakistani port city of Karachi have used tear gas during clashes with opposition activists trying to hold a rally against military rule.


The whole city is under siege.

Pakistan People's Party leader Nisar Khoro
More than 150 people were arrested in different parts of the city, including some senior leaders from the opposition Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD).

The security forces had mounted a huge security operation, setting up dozens of roadblocks and checking buses and trains coming into Karachi.

Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, had vowed to stop the May Day gathering, and has accused the opposition of creating instability in the country.

Security clampdown

Police had sealed off the intended venue of the rally at Nishtar Park and had gone out in force patrolling the main streets.

General Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf: Rally will not go ahead
Some local residents complained they were unable to go about their normal business.

Despite the security blanket, hundreds of opposition supporters gathered in residential areas and tried to make their way towards the venue for the rally.

Police used teargas and baton charges to beat them back.

'Useless politicians'

The security forces in Karachi and the rest of Sindh province carried out large-scale arrests of opposition supporters in recent days a bid to prevent the protest.

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

General 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

He has made clear that he sees no role in public life for the country's established political leaders.

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

The military leader has promised to return Pakistan to democracy before October 2002 - but the opposition 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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