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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Bhutto party supporters released
Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari waves to crowds outside his Lahore home
More than 500 Pakistan People's Party workers detained during the return of opposition leader Asif Zardari have been released, a party spokesman said.

Mr Zardari - the husband of former Premier Benazir Bhutto - returned to Lahore from Dubai on Saturday.

Ahead of his arrival the authorities banned opposition rallies and arrested many activists in the city.

Police escorted Mr Zardari from the airport in a heavily guarded police van to his home in Lahore.

Briefly detained

"We do not want agitation in the country and believe that the government should hold purposeful and meaningful dialogue with us," Mr Zardari told reporters on Sunday.

The 500 Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) supporters were released by different courts across Lahore.

Mr Zardari was himself briefly detained after he arrived from Dubai on Saturday, court officials said.

A PPP spokesman said that most of around 30 MPs who were detained at the same time have also been released.

Mr Zardari spent eight years in prison awaiting trial on charges of corruption and conspiracy to murder. The charges are still pending.
Asif Zardari
We do not want agitation in the country and believe that the government should hold purposeful and meaningful dialogue with us
PPP leader Asif Zardari

He told the BBC news website from his home that he was still planning to lead supporters in a rally to a Lahore shrine to oppose the rule of President Pervez Musharraf.

Before his return, Mr Zardari said his party had "no other option but to launch street agitation".

"We will launch a movement to fill jails," he added.

Mr Zardari is being projected by some in the PPP as the party's future leader.

The PPP has been a vocal critic of President Musharraf since he seized power in a coup in 1999.

However, late last year negotiations between the two sides resulted in Mr Zardari's release from jail on bail in November.

He flew to Dubai in December to join his family.

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