Islamabad police baton charge, teargas lawyers
Police used batons and teargas on Saturday to disperse hundreds of lawyers protesting against President Pervez Musharraf’s candidacy in next week’s presidential election, officials and witnesses said. The police also targeted the media and several journalists were injured. Violence erupted outside the Election Commission in Islamabad after Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz arrived. Aziz officially proposed Musharraf for president, and was at the commission in case he needed to defend the nomination during scrutiny. Police fired tear gas and used batons to break up a group of about 900 lawyers and activists who tried to march from the Supreme Court, across an avenue, to the Election Commission. At least a dozen lawyers were seen with bloody heads and several people were overcome by tear gas. An official claimed 12 police had been hurt. “It was a peaceful protest but police beat up women lawyers. Policemen were laughing and enjoying it as they were beating lawyers,” said prominent human rights lawyer Asma Jehangir, wearing a blood-stained white scarf. Police later fired more tear gas, apparently to keep protesters bottled up in the Supreme Court compound. Cable news channels went off the air in Islamabad but it was unclear if authorities had blocked coverage of the protests.