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Former Pakistan PM put under house arrest ahead of mass protests

[JURIST] Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC profile] was placed under house arrest Friday as she prepared to attend a protest in Rawalpindi against President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule [PDF text] on Saturday. Police barricaded Bhutto's home to prevent Bhutto from leaving and supporters from reaching Bhutto in her home. While top Interior Ministry official Kamal Shah said a district magistrate served a detention order on Bhutto which is reportedly valid for 30 days, Bhutto denies receiving such an order. On Wednesday, Bhutto encouraged members of her People's Party of Pakistan [party website] to rally [AP report] on Friday despite the government's ban on public gatherings. Some 5,000 Bhutto supporters were arrested early Friday in an effort to prevent a mass protest, approximately 200 protesters did gather in Rawalpindi, dozens of whom were arrested. Bhutto returned to Pakistan last month after a decade of self imposed exile in England and Dubai after Musharraf signed a "reconciliation ordinance" which allowed Bhutto to return without facing corruption charges [JURIST report]. Bhutto, a political rival [BBC backgrounder] of Musharraf, said Pakistani police have detained over 5,000 members of her party.

On Saturday and Sunday, police detained [JURIST report] hundreds of lawyers, rights activists and opposition figures protesting the emergency orders, and on Monday, fired tear gas at protesters in Lahore [JURIST report]. Pakistani police Tuesday arrested some 50 lawyers [JURIST report] at the Lahore High Court who were involved in the protests. On Thursday, Pakistani prosecutors charged four activists with treason [JURIST report] for allegedly making anti-Musharraf speeches in the southern city of Karachi. AP has more. CBS News has additional coverage.

12:40 PM ET - CNN is reporting that the house arrest order for Bhutto has been lifted.

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