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Pakistan puts opposition leader Sharif under house arrest

Sun., March 15, 2009

ISLAMABAD – Pakistani authorities placed opposition leader Nawaz Sharif under house arrest today to stop him from taking part in an anti-government rally, a spokesman said.

The move against former Prime Minister Sharif shows Pakistan’s determination to squelch Monday’s rally in the capital Islamabad but risks igniting anger among his supporters. It will also likely damage the democratic credentials of the one-year-old government led by U.S.-backed President Asif Ali Zardari.

Sharif’s spokesman Pervez Rasheed said hundreds of police surrounded his house Sunday in the eastern city of Lahore.

Zardari and Sharif are under increasing pressure to reach a settlement from the United States, which fears the government is bogged down in power struggles when it needs to focus on economic problems, as well as Western demands for more help with the faltering war effort in neighboring Afghanistan.

Suspected militants attacked a transport terminal in northwestern Pakistan used to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan before dawn today and torched dozens of containers and military vehicles, including Humvees, police said.


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