Pakistan bans rallies, arrests 100s before march

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan rounded up hundreds of opposition activists Wednesday and banned protests in two provinces hoping to thwart an anti-government march on the capital, saying it would not allow “the law of the jungle” to cause instability.

The crackdown threatened to undermine support for the year-old elected government, which the U.S. is counting on to battle Taliban and al-Qaida militants operating in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The growing political unrest also raised the specter of a possible military intervention in a nuclear-armed nation prone to army coups. It could put Washington in a prickly position if the civilian government — which itself rose to power on the back of rallies and marches against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf — keeps clamping down on dissidents.

As television channels beamed footage of police dragging activists into vans the day before the march was to begin, opposition party leaders and lawyers spearheading demonstrations vowed to press ahead.

“I cannot rest when Pakistan is being taken toward disastrous circumstances,” opposition leade… >>>

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