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Pakistan - interview

Information Minister resigns, say reports, as Islamabad faces lawyers' protest

Article published on the 2009-03-14 Latest update 2009-03-14 15:00 TU

Police stand behind a barricade in Multan(Photo: Reuters)

Police stand behind a barricade in Multan
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman is reported to have resigned in protest at moves to muzzle a popular TV channel. The move comes as police battle with lawyers and political activists in several cities, ahead of a rally due to take place on Monday in Islamabad. An opposition MP says that the move is a great embarrassment for the government.

Rehman is expected to submit her resignation officially late on Saturday after apparently disagreeing with moves against the Geo TV channel.

Earlier Geo said that its cable transmission has been blocked because the govenrment disliked its coverage of the lawyers' so-called "long march" on Islamabad.

Police arrest a party activist in Hyderabad(Photo: Reuters)

Police arrest a party activist in Hyderabad
(Photo: Reuters)

There has been a kind of a clampdown on one of the most popular channels, Geo," says Ayaz Amir MP. "The Information Minister is said to have resigned because her advice that steps should not be taken against the media, those were not heeded."

Amir, who is a member of the Muslim League (PML-N) which supports the protests, believes that the government is in serious trouble.

"It’s a huge embarrassment, certainly, when you’re in the midst of a crisis and one of your important ministers resigns," he told RFI.

Reaction: Muslim League MP Ayaz Amir

14/03/2009 by Salil Sarkar

Police contiued to battle lawyers and their supporters in provincial cities, with more arrests reported in the city of Multan Saturday. 

In the eastern city of Quetta they prevented the President of the Supreme court bar association, Ali Ahmed Kurd, from boarding a plane to go and join a demonstration in Lahore.

With the lawyers calling for thousands of their supporters to converge on Islamabad, police have blocked entries to the city, according to Amir.

"There is a massive crackdown on political activists and lawyers all over the country, he says.

"Islamabad is being sealed. They’re blocking roads by placing containers along roads and they’re blocking all entry points into the capital."