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Pakistani Police Detain Bhutto

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's Philip Reeves reports.

PHILIP REEVES: Dozens of police blocked the three-lined avenue leading down to Benazir Bhutto's lavish residence in Islamabad. There are coils of razor wire, an armored jeep, concrete blocks. Parked nearby stands several large, blue armored vans with bars on the windows. These are for cutting off protesters to join thousands of other opposition activists, lawyers and civil rights campaigners now in detention in Pakistan. It isn't long before the vans are in use.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD YELLING)

REEVES: Party spokeswoman Sherry Rehman says Bhutto's status today isn't clear.

SHERRY REHMAN: This is clearly - and not just an emergency, this is a return to the black days of martial law of 1977.

REEVES: Bhutto was planning a rally today in the nearby city of Rawalpindi. This was intended to ratchet up pressure on General Musharraf to meet her demands for transitioning to civilian rule. She says, only when he does so can the negotiations between them resume. Instead, she ends up standing on one side of the barricades around her home, watched by hundreds of riot police as she uses a bullhorn to address the press on the other side.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: I tried to have a decent negotiation. I worked out a road map with General Musharraf. (Unintelligible) democracy. And I'm very disappointed that, rather than the peaceful way, he chose the nonpolitical path.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

REEVES: Abita Hussein(ph), a senior official with Bhutto's party, said the rally was intended to be a peaceful, lawful protest.

ABITA HUSSEIN: Is this democracy? Does this stand, in any way, of democracy? (Unintelligible), close to claims that General Musharraf makes that he is moving us towards democracy, this is naked, outside military dictatorship.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, Islamabad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

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