Crackdown on media opposition meets protest

.ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Police on Monday fired tear gas and clubbed lawyers protesting against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule. The U.S. and other nations called for elections to be held on schedule and said they were reviewing aid to Pakistan.

In the largest protest in the eastern city of Lahore, lawyers dressed in black suits and ties chanted “Musharraf Go!” as they defied the government’s ban on rallies. Some fought back with stones and tree branches.

The crackdown mainly targeted Musharraf’s most potent critics – the judiciary and lawyers, independent television stations and opposition activists. Opposition groups said 3,500 had been arrested, though the government reported half that total.

President George W. Bush urged Musharraf to hold parliamentary elections as scheduled in January and relinquish his army post as soon as possible. “Our hope is that he will restore democracy as quickly as possible,” Bush said.

But there did not appear to be a unified position among senior government officials on whether they planned to hold the election as planned. The attorney general said the vote would take place as scheduled but then conceded there was a chance of a delay. The prime minister also left open the possibility of a delay.