KARACHI, Pakistan — Thousands of protesters in every major Pakistani city rallied against President Zia ul-Haq on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the military coup he led to take power.
The crowds were smaller than predicted by leaders of the Pakistan People's Party headed by Benazir Bhutto, who called for the so-called "Black Day" protest. Bhutto is the daughter of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the man Zia overthrew and later hanged.
About 20,000 demonstrators gathered here in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, with a population of 7 million. Leaders of the Pakistan People's Party had predicted crowds of more than 100,000. The largest rally took place in Lahore, capital of Punjab province, where more than 50,000 gathered to hear speeches calling for Zia's removal.
The rallies were generally peaceful, although one man was killed and several were injured in a demonstration at Tando Mohammed Khan, near Hyderabad, after police clashed with the crowd, according to Reuters news agency.
Benazir Bhutto, 33, did not attend any of the rallies, having said she wanted to prove that her party, which was founded by her father, could rally support without her as the drawing card.
However, at a speech here to trade union leaders who support her party, she called for workers to join a campaign in the fall against President Zia, who still retains the job of army chief of staff that he held before the July 5, 1977, coup.
She asked the 500 labor leaders, "Will the workers help destroy Zia? Will they join the campaign this autumn?" The group responded loudly, waving their arms and chanting, "Zia must go! Zia must go!"
Hearing the response, Bhutto said: "This will prove to be his (Zia's) last July the 5th."
After declaring a break in political activity during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting in May and part of June, Bhutto has begun to slowly mount a campaign against the president.
Bhutto wants Zia's civilian prime minister, Mohammed Khan Junejo, to call an election this fall, with all political parties allowed to participate. Political parties were barred from the election in early 1985.