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Pakistani Police Arrest Political Party Leader - 2001-11-01

Pakistani police have arrested the acting head of one of the country's leading political parties. The move follows the party's decision to join Islamic groups that have been protesting government support for the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.

The government says it has been investigating Mukhdoom Javed Hashmi for months. He leads the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted amid corruption charges by General Pervez Musharraf two years ago.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League decided to join a November 9 strike against the government.

General Rashid Qureshi, the military government's top spokesman, has said there is no connection. "I'm sure that we are all very well aware of the following that Mr. Hashmi has, so I don't really need to tell you whether the government is upset about that," he said. "That is incorrect, totally incorrect. Those who know the gentleman I think are quite satisfied that there is a problem of possession of assets."

The leaders of two key religious parties involved in planning the November strike have also been arrested by the government.