[JURIST] Only 37 of over 5700 lawyers, rights activists, opposition figures and others arrested after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf issued a declaration of emergency rule [PDF text] earlier this month still remain in custody, Pakistani Interior Ministry spokesman Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema said Tuesday. Of those 37, 32 were arrested for violent or lawless activities and are facing pending court action. Over 2000 detainees have been released in the past week.
Cheema expressed hope that the release of the detainees would encourage whole-hearted participation in the electoral process. Several prominent lawyers recently filed nomination papers with Pakistan's electoral authorities after being freed from detention. On Sunday, the Pakistani government transferred Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan from Rawalpindi's Adiala jail to house arrest in Lahore so he could file as a candidate [Hindu report] for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. Also on Tuesday, however, ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – still under virtual house arrest in Islamabad – was cited in local news reports as urging Pakistani political parties and people to boycott the elections [Nation report] still slated to be held under the umbrella of emergency rule. Xinhua has more.