Pakistan Protests Escalate, Sharif Alleges Death Threat

Dozens beaten and arrested as 'long march' to Islamabad begins
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2009 7:00 AM CDT
Pakistani lawyers and members of civil rights movement march along a street as they take part in a demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, March 12, 2009.   (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
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(Newser) – Pakistani police continued their crackdown on protesters today as Nawaz Sharif, a former PM turned opposition leader, accused the government of conspiring to kill him. Political activists and the country's lawyers defied a ban on protests, facing beatings and arrests in demonstrations from Karachi to Lahore. Sharif said he had information about "threats to my life" from "certain top-most people in the government," a claim the president's office called "outlandish."

Sharif fell out with President Asif Ali Zardari after the latter failed to fulfill a campaign pledge to reinstate some 60 judges sacked by Pervez Musharraf during the 2007 state of emergency. Sharif—himself ousted from office by a court decision—now calls the civilian government an "elected dictatorship" and is demanding "the rule of law back in to this country." Demonstrators set out on a "long march" today from the south of Pakistan that will arrive in Islamabad on Monday.