Opponents’ arrests reported in Pakistan

Sept. 5, 2007 at 3:35 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- With days left for the return to Pakistan of exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his supporters say several of his party activists have been arrested.

Sharif, who was sent into exile in Saudi Arabia after being ousted in 1999 in a bloodless military coup by President Pervez Musharraf, is to return home next week to challenge Musharraf in the coming elections.

Reporting the arrests, BBC quoted Ahsan Iqbal, information secretary for Sharif’s PML-N party, as saying there had been at least 100 arrests since Saturday in Punjab Province. The report said the roundup allegedly began on the orders of province’s chief minister, who belongs to Musharraf’s ruling party.

Musharraf, who also is the country’s military chief, is fighting for his political survival following a sharp rise in violence in the country and setbacks dealt him by Pakistani courts.

Separately, the BBC reported talks resumed in the United Arab Emirates between the Musharraf government and leaders of Pakistan People’s Party, led by another former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to conclude an electoral deal.

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