Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has vowed to launch a massive protest march unless President Pervez Musharraf steps down as head of the army and restores the constitution by next Tuesday. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that the address marks an escalation of tactics by Mr. Musharraf's opponents.
Ms. Bhutto told a rally here that she would lead a 300-kilometer "long march" from Lahore to Islamabad if General Musharraf does not reverse his emergency decree by November 13.
She demanded that Mr. Musharraf appear on television to restore the constitution and free all of those who have been arrested, including senior judges. She also insisted he fulfill his promise to resign as army chief by November 15 and announce when national elections will be held in early January.
Ms. Bhutto said Mr. Musharraf's emergency declaration had endangered Pakistan.
"Our country is in danger from the extremism that has spread under dictatorship," she said. "We believe we can save our country by saving democracy."
The former prime minister said some 400 members of her party have been arrested under the emergency law. It is unclear how many people overall have been detained since Saturday, but the number is believed to be at least a few thousand.
She called for all Pakistanis to volunteer to be arrested if she and the leadership of her party are detained.
"We appeal to the people to find busy marketplaces and court arrest," said Ms. Bhutto.
Ms. Bhutto said Pakistanis demanding the restoration of the constitution could eventually fill Pakistan's jails.
Following her address, more than 100 of her supporters approached barricades near parliament and clashed with police.
While the protesters chanted against Mr. Musharraf outside parliament, inside members of the national assembly voted to endorse Mr. Musharraf's declaration of emergency. All opposition parties have either resigned from the assembly or boycotted the vote.
SPEAKER: "All those in favor of the resolution may say Aye."
SPEAKER: "Against, may say No."
SPEAKER: "Consequently the resolution is adopted."
Ms. Bhutto announced her party's next protest rally will be in Rawalpindi on Friday and she expects it to be peaceful. Local officials have said they will not allow the demonstration to take place.