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4 Zia Foes Charged With Murder After Pakistani Riots

August 20, 1986|Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A drive to oust President Zia ul-Haq faltered on Tuesday, and police charged four opposition leaders with murder in connection with the rioting that has killed at least 26 people in the last week.

Police said the four officials of the Pakistan People's Party were charged with firing on a march by government supporters in the eastern city of Lahore last Thursday, killing four of them.

According to witnesses, four people were killed in rioting in Lahore last week, but they died in clashes with police.

The police report named Jahangir Badir, party president in Punjab province; party spokesman Salman Taseer, and Malik Hakmeen Khan and Sayed Nazim Ali Shah, senior party leaders. Shah and Khan were arrested earlier. Taseer and Badir are in hiding after a government political crackdown last week.

Riots flared across Pakistan after the government arrested more than 500 opposition leaders, including Benazir Bhutto, the People's Party president.

Protest Turnouts Small

But a nationwide, anti-government campaign appeared to be faltering Tuesday as calls for protests attracted small turnouts.

The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, an alliance of 11 opposition parties, mounted the drive to depose Zia and force elections. Zia, on a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, is expected home Friday.

Gen. Zia, who is army commander as well as president, and Prime Minister Mohammed Khan Junejo have said they do not intend to step down and no elections will take place until scheduled voting in 1990. They say democracy has been restored in Pakistan.

Police again fought protesters Tuesday.

Scattered rioting was reported in southern Pakistan. Riot police and paramilitary ranger units tear-gassed and clubbed protesters who attacked government buildings, burned banks and businesses and blocked road and rail traffic, according to official reports and witnesses.

But protests were subsiding. Police and soldiers were regaining control in parts of Sind province, where 16 people, including four police officers, died in clashes Monday, according to the witnesses and official reports.

Dozens of people were injured in disturbances, with police repeatedly firing rifles and shotguns at demonstrators.

5,000 March in Lahore

About 5,000 people shouting "Zia go, go!" marched Tuesday through Lahore. Hundreds of heavily armed riot police stood by without intervening, and the marchers dispersed peacefully.

More than 1,000 police outnumbered the few hundred people who tried to march in the southern city of Karachi but were quickly dispersed by a police baton charge. Scattered rioting persisted in Karachi.

The opposition failed to mount a procession in Rawalpindi, the northern city that adjoins Islamabad, the capital. Few protests were reported outside Lahore in Punjab province, which has traditionally dominated Pakistani politics.

Rail traffic remained snarled Tuesday, one day after crowds wrecked tracks and burned at least 18 stations, railway officials said.

Opposition leaders refused to concede that their drive was in trouble and said support for their daily protests will increase. More marches will be held throughout the week in Lahore, Karachi and other cities, they said.

Bhutto remained under detention Tuesday in a jail outside Karachi. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was deposed as prime minister by Zia in a military coup in 1977 and was later executed on a charge of plotting the murder of a political opponent.

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