Pakistan Puts Sharif Under House Arrest

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2009 11:05 PM CDT
Pakistani opposition leader Nawaz Sharif talks with a reporter last month.   (AP Photo/K.M.Chaudary)
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(Newser) – Pakistan's tensions reached new heights today as President Zardari put rival Nawaz Sharif under house arrest, the New York Times reports. The move comes just hours before Sharif was to address supporters at a demonstration in Lahore. The government, meanwhile, has begun pulling troops away from the fight against militants and moving them toward Islamabad in advance of a mass protest there Monday, notes the Wall Street Journal. US efforts to defuse the crisis have apparently been rebuffed.

Sharif and his brother have reportedly been confined for three days. The latest trouble began 3 weeks ago when the Supreme Court barred Sharif, a former prime minister, from holding public office. He and his supporters say Zardari engineered the vote and demand that the president reinstate fired justices. They have joined forces with a lawyers' movement. Meanwhile, Zardari's support appears to be fraying from within—his information minister quit yesterday to protest a clampdown on the media.