KARACHI, Pakistan — Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and other dissident leaders were released today after weeks of detention in a crackdown on opponents demanding democratic elections.
Bhutto, 33, was released after 25 days in custody and just 12 hours before she was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday to contest the government's 30-day detention order against her as "illegal, unconstitutional and mala fide. "
Bhutto, head of the influential Pakistan People's Party, was arrested while talking to reporters in her Karachi home, which authorities said violated a public gatherings ban issued on the eve of nationwide anti-government rallies.
Bhutto told reporters at her home that she believed at least 10 other dissident leaders had been released. The government has not disclosed the number of people detained but unofficial estimates range from 2,000 to 10,000.