Pakistani journalists protest police "brutality"

Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:12pm BST

ISLAMABAD, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Pakistani journalists protested on Sunday against police violence against colleagues covering a protest against President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad a day earlier.

About 400 journalists and human right activists chanted anti-government slogans and condemned police "brutality" as they marched from a press club in Islamabad to the parliament building.

More than a dozen lawyers, several journalists and a cabinet minister were injured in clashes on Saturday outside the Election Commission, where Musharraf's nomination was accepted for a vote on Oct. 6, which is expected to secure him a fresh term.

Police launched a baton charge and fired tear gas to disperse black-suited lawyers and opposition activists, who have been at the vanguard of a pro-democracy movement.

"They want to snatch our freedom which is unacceptable. We'll fight, we'll fight for our independence and freedom," Mazhar Abbas, president of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), told the marchers.

Similar rallies in support of press freedom were held in other cities including Karachi, Peshawar, Multan, as well as tribal areas where the army is fighting pro-Taliban militants.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Sunday ordered Islamabad's top administration and police officials to provide explanations to the Supreme Court on Monday to explain why force was used against lawyers and journalists.

The Supreme Court dismissed on Friday challenges to General Musharraf's bid to seek re-election while still army chief, removing a major obstacle to his securing another term.

Opposition parties say they will resign their seats before the presidential vote, even though Musharraf has vowed to quit the army, his main source of power, if he wins.




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