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Bhutto in Islamabad to Discuss Ways to Overturn Emergency Rule


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto arrived in Islamabad Tuesday for meetings with opposition parties to discuss ways to overturn emergency rule imposed by President Pervez Musharraf.

Ms. Bhutto said she has no plans to meet or negotiate with General Musharraf, but demanded that he restore the constitution, which has been suspended since he imposed emergency rule on Saturday.

She also challenged the president to say that parliamentary elections set for mid-January will be held on schedule.

General Musharraf's Cabinet met Tuesday to discuss the timetable for the ballot. No final decision has been made on whether to postpone the vote.

Earlier, Pakistan's ousted Supreme Court chief justice called on his supporters to protest the emergency rule.

Using a mobile-phone link to address a rally of several hundred lawyers in Islamabad, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry urged them to defy police, protest emergency rule and stand up for the constitution.

The government has given Supreme Court justices the choice of accepting a new provisional constitution or stepping down. Eight of the justices have accepted the new constitution, which imposed emergency rule.

Chaudhry and six other justices refused and ruled that the emergency decree was unconstitutional. They were placed under house arrest and their ruling was ignored.

Meanwhile, there were more clashes between protesting lawyers and police today, this time near the central city of Multan.

More than 1,500 people - including lawyers and opposition politicians - have been arrested since the president imposed emergency rule.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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