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The BBC's Zaffer Abbas in Islamabad
"She managed to slip through the police cordon"
 real 28k

Kulsoom Nawaz
talked to the BBC from her surrounded vehicle
 real 56k

The BBC's Owen Bennett Jones
"Mrs Sharif said she's trying to rally opposition to military rule"
 real 28k

Raja Zaffar Ulhaz, Muslim League
"A brutal and wholly undemocratic act by the government"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 July, 2000, 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK
Pakistan stand-off ends
Mrs Nawaz waves as she refuses to unlock her doors
Mrs Sharif refuses to unlock her car doors
A bizarre stand-off between the wife of the ousted Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and the police has ended.

Earlier in the day, the police had stopped her from leading a cross-country rally and after a short car chase had towed away her car with Kulsoom Nawaz and three others sitting inside.

Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz and her car towed away by police
The ousted PM's wife is towed away

It is still not clear how the authorities finally persuaded Mrs Nawaz to end her protest but it is believed a deal was struck that if she went home the police would not arrest her.

During the stand off Mrs Nawaz, speaking on a mobile phone, said she was trying to rally support for her campaign opposing military rule.

The minister of information justified the police action saying she was detained as she had violated a ban on political activities.

Procession

Mrs Sharif says the police action is part of an effort to prevent a protest rally by supporters of her husband's party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), which she wants to lead.

PML supporters said the rally would involve a procession from Lahore to Peshawar, 500 km to the northwest.

Scores of PML supporters have been arrested
Scores of PML supporters have been arrested

The BBC's Islamabad correspondent says PML activists are hoping this confrontation with the military authorities will help rally support behind the deposed prime minister, who is in jail.

However, Pakistan's information minister Javed Jabbar said the incident was the latest in a long line of theatrics staged by the family of Nawaz Sharif.

He said the government had no choice but to enforce its ban on public rallies and demonstrations. But he said Mrs Sharif was being treated with all courtesy.

Pre-dawn raids

Scores of PML supporters were arrested in pre-dawn raids on Saturday.

Police said they were acting on the orders of the Punjab provincial governor, who had vowed to prevent the rally from going ahead.

Officials said about 165 PML members had been arrested. PML leaders said as many as 300 had been detained.

Many other Muslim League members are reported to have gone into hiding.

Correspondents say that by detaining so many PML activists in Lahore, Pakistan's military authorities have signalled their determination to prevent any major protests getting under way.

Outspoken criticism

The public profile of Mr Sharif's wife has grown since he was toppled in the October military coup and subsequently jailed for terrorism and hijacking.


Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif is on trial for alleged tax evasion

In May, she led a motorcade to celebrate the second anniversary of Pakistan's nuclear tests.

Her outspoken criticism of the military authorities has drawn angry attacks from the government and alienated some sections of the PML.

Nawaz Sharif is currently on trial for alleged tax evasion in connection with a private helicopter purchase. He faces 14 years in prison if found guilty.

He has already been given a life sentence for terrorism and hijacking, in a separate trial.

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See also:

07 Jul 00 | South Asia
Mass arrest of Sharif supporters
06 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif's former colleague testifies
04 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif denies party rift
02 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sharif charged with corruption
25 May 00 | South Asia
Blow for Sharif lawyers
07 Jul 00 | South Asia
Muslim League: Signs of rift
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