Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Pakistan releases activists, lawyers

AP , ISLAMABAD

More than 3,400 people jailed in Pakistan under emergency rule have been released, the Interior Ministry said yesterday, while Karachi police detained about 150 journalists protesting the state of emergency.

Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema put the exact figure of those freed in recent days at 3,416 -- including lawyers and political activists -- and said more than 2,000 people remained jailed.

"The process has started. More are being released today," Cheema said of the releases.

He said those still in detention "would be freed soon," though he said the cases of those facing criminal charges could take longer.

Musharraf, who left for a visit to Saudi Arabia yesterday, has been rolling back some of his most unpopular steps in recent days.

The releases came hours after judges hand-picked by Musharraf quashed legal challenges to his disputed re-election as president. Still, many high-ranking party activists and leaders, such as former cricket star Imran Khan, remained in prison. Khan began a hunger strike on Monday to protest emergency rule.

In Karachi, police detained about 150 reporters after clashing with them during a demonstration against the state of emergency, witnesses said.

Two journalists were seen bleeding from head injuries.

Police also detained 23 journalists after they tried to hold a rally in Hyderabad, a local journalist said.

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