Pakistan opposition leaders arrested

March 11, 2009 at 8:28 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 11 (UPI) -- Pakistani officials seeking to prevent a planned protest march have arrested dozens of opposition political figures, activists say.

Plans by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Party for a four-day protest march have been under way since late last month, after its leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his brother were barred by the Supreme Court from holding elective office, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Since then, police have carried out government orders to place PML-N leaders under house arrest, including party Chairman Raja Zafar-ul Haq, Information Secretary Ehsan Iqbal and President Ghulam Dastagir, the British broadcaster said.

The government has also reportedly banned political gatherings in the country's two largest provinces, Sindh and Punjab.

The Sharif brothers blame Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari for influencing the high court's decision, which declared that Nawaz Sharif was ineligible to hold office because of a past criminal conviction.

There was no immediate reaction from Islamabad on the arrests and the ban on gatherings, the BBC said.

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