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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK


World: South Asia

Politician tells of house arrest



A special assistant to the prime minister of Pakistan has told BBC News Online of life under house arrest following the military coup.

Pakistan in crisis
Khurram Dastgir Khan spoke by telephone after his father Ghulam e-mailed News Online from the family's home in Gujranwala.

In the e-mail, Ghulam Dastgir Khan, a senior figure in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League, said that a "massive number of army troops" had been deployed throughout the country to put all prominent Muslim League parliamentarians under house arrest.


Khurram Dastgir Khan : troops are stationed to ensure we don't leave
"My wife, son, widowed sister-in-law and her daughter, two nephews, and eight members of the staff have been under armed house arrest since daybreak yesterday," he said.

"Approximately 40 armed troops have been deployed outside and inside my house.

"My household is under armed siege of troops that wear my country's uniform; we are in quarantine," he wrote.

BBC News Online's South Asia editor Kumar Malhotra telephoned the family and spoke to the MP's son Khurram Dastgir Khan, who was recently appointed special assistant to the Prime Minister, about life in the country.

Internet a reliable source


[ image: Supporters of Nawaz Sharif voice their anger]
Supporters of Nawaz Sharif voice their anger
In the telephone interview, Khurram described the situation as far as he could see it from his home.

He said information was hard to get and the only reliable source of news was via the Internet and BBC News Online.

"This is the first critical situation in Pakistan's history that the Internet has become a valuable source.

"In fact, personally for me the Internet is proving to be a life-line in a situation where I can't go out," he said.

In a lengthy interview, he spoke about the fears he had for three generations of his family being held in the grounds of their home and for the future of the country.

Arrests reported

In the e-mail, his father Ghulam said he was not the only politician being imprisoned.

"There are eye-witness reports that, across the country, other parliamentarian and members of the provincial legislature are under similar house arrest. The rights of my family to freedom of movement and association have been usurped. And I wonder for how long phone lines will remain uncut," he wrote.

So far, News Online has received more than 4,000 e-mails from Pakistan, India, the UK and around the world about the situation in the country.



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