Thu, Nov 15, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Imran Khan arrested at rally in Lahore

AP , LAHORE

Imran Khan, cricketer turned politician, is surrounded by university students in Lahore yesterday as he appeared in public for the first time since slipping the police net around his home last week. Khan was arrested by police after he emerged from hiding.

PHOTO: AFP

akistani cricket legend Imran Khan was arrested after he showed up at a student rally in Lahore, police said yesterday, effectively silencing the only one of the general's outspoken critics who had not been in detention or exile.

Khan was charged under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, which includes penalties that can carry the death sentence or life imprisonment.

A senior official said that former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto would also remain under house arrest for at least another day after deepening the political crisis by demanding the resignation of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.

Meanwhile, the administration of US President George W. Bush said it was sending its No. 2 diplomat to Pakistan to urge Musharraf to rescind emergency rule.

Authorities put Bhutto under house arrest on Tuesday for the second time since her return from exile, and a senior federal government official said that she was grounded until at least today.

"Then the government will review what to do with her," the official said on condition of anonymity because the matter was politically sensitive and no decision had been made to release her.

Bhutto said on Tuesday that she was working to forge a partnership with Nawaz Sharif, the man who was overthrown as prime minister in a 1999 coup by Musharraf. She demanded that Musharraf step down, dashing Western hopes that the two moderate leaders would form an alliance to confront strengthening Islamic extremists.

Khan, who has been in hiding since escaping from house arrest a day after emergency rule was declared, surfaced at a student demonstration in Lahore and was promptly detained by hardline students and handed over to police, authorities said.

Senior police official Aftab Cheema said Khan was being held at an undisclosed location and would be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

"He created a law and order situation at the educational institution and caused a disruption in educational activities," Cheema said.

Khan, who leads a small but outspoken opposition party, had given a series of media interviews at secret locations in Lahore before deciding to join the students protesting at the University of Punjab.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is expected to arrive tomorrow in Pakistan.

"We continue to want to see elections move forward in a free, fair and transparent manner [and] we want to see the emergency decree lifted," Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters in Washington.

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