Beefed Up Security Will Welcome Sharif

Pakistan bans rallies, rounds up activists day before ex-PM's return
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2007 12:07 PM CDT
Supporters of a Pakistani religious party chant anti government slogans during a rally in Lahore, Pakistan on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007. Pakistan stepped up airport security, banned rallies and continued...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – In advance of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif's return tomorrow after a 7-year exile, Pakistan banned political rallies and has arrested thousands of activists, the AP reports. "Nothing can be more pleasing to me than freeing Pakistan from the clutches of military dictatorship," said Sharif, who anticipates being arrested upon arrival in Islamabad, but  still plans to reclaim his seat from President Pervez Musharraf.

"I will be happy that for a small price—my going to jail—Pakistan will get freedom," he said. Meanwhile, authorities are cracking down on Sharif's supporters, with more than 2,000 detained in Punjab, prompting Human Rights Watch to call for their release. Sharif arrives tomorrow with brother Shabhaz Sharif, for whom an arrest warrant was issued this week.