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Pakistani opposition leader held

From CNN Producer Syed Mohsin Naqvi

Hashmi (L) speaks with Qazi Hussein Ahmed (C). leader of alliance member Jamat-e-Islami.
Hashmi (L) speaks with Qazi Hussein Ahmed (C). leader of alliance member Jamat-e-Islami.

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Pakistan
Pervez Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A Pakistani opposition leader has been arrested on charges of treason, hours after criticizing army generals who meddle in politics, government officials said.

Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, president of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the Pakistan Muslim League was arrested in Islamabad on Wednesday. He is also a parliamentary leader.

In a news conference, Hashmi also displayed letters allegedly written to him by unknown army men voicing their opposition to President Pervez Musharraf's involvement in Pakistani politics. Musharraf is also a general.

The letters also complained about the alleged appointments of corrupt army officers to civilian posts, Hashmi said.

This is the fourth time Hashmi has been arrested since Musharraf came to power. In a previous detention he was held for 14 months.

The treason charges he faces now could bring the death penalty or life in prison if he's convicted in court.

The Pakistan Muslim League was ruling Pakistan in 1999 when Musharraf came into power after a bloodless military coup and ousted Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and his government.

The ARD is an alliance opposed to Musharraf and consists of more than a dozen parties. Two former Pakistani prime ministers -- Benazir Bhutto and Sharif -- are members of this alliance.

Both of these prime ministers are in exile but their parties are trying to remove Musharraf from power.

The ARD has called for an emergency meeting in Islamabad in which they it will discuss future strategy following Hashmi's arrest.

That party -- as well as the Pakistani Joint Opposition group -- is calling for nationwide protests Thursday to show their anger over his arrest.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told CNN the group criticized the arrest. He said the party will not be afraid of these arrests and will continue its struggle against Musharraf.


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