LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - An influential Pakistani Islamist opposition leader on Sunday called for a nationwide protest against President Pervez Musharraf, urging people to come onto the streets to overthrow the country's military leader.
"People will now come on the street and will throw out the military dictator," said Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the leader of an alliance of Islamist parties and fierce critic of Musharraf.
Ahmed, who heads the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) alliance, made the call while addressing a congregation of 20,000 people near the eastern city of Lahore a day after General Musharraf proclaimed emergency rule to combat spiralling Islamist militancy and interference by judges.
Ahmed, whose own Jamaat-i-Islami party has historic ties with Eygpt's Muslim Brotherhood, said the anti-government campaign would be launched along with religious scholars and lawyers.
Pakistani lawyers also announced a countrywide strike on Monday as the government blacked out private television channels for several hours and arrested scores of opposition leaders and political activists to stifle an outcry against emergency rule and suspension of the constitution.
"I condemn the ban on television channels and arrest of political workers. I condemn the emergency and proclamation of provisional constitutional order," Ahmed said.