INTRODUCTION Pakistan's opposition leaders held a crucial round of talks on Wednesday (27 April) to reconsider terms for ending their confrontation with the government.
GV EXTERIOR: Opposition Pakistan National Alliance headquarters, Lahore, Pakistan.
MV: PNA supporters with banners (3 shots)
MVs INTERIOR: PNA leaders holding meeting. (2 shots)
GV PAN EXTERIOR: deserted street and closed shops.
GVs: troops in trucks patrolling streets. (3 shots)
GVs: Pro-government supporters demonstrating. (3 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: REPORTER: "The streets of Lahore were virtually deserted. Under martial law, the army had imposed a strict curfew in three of Pakistan's major cities - Lahore, Karachi and Hyderabad. Troops can now shoot curfew-breakers on sight.
It's not a role the army likes. They risk being identified with a government which is widely unpopular. But most people seem to accept them. The army is a symbol of the nation's self-respect. Before martial law was imposed, Lahore witnessed its first demonstration of support for Mr. Bhutto's party. After daily opposition marches, it was time for the ruling party to show its strength. It was not encouraging for Mr Bhutto. His Pakistan Peoples Party could only muster a crowd half the size of the opposition's, a remarkable thing when it's remembered that Mr Bhutto's party swept the board in last month's elections in this, the major city of the Punjab."
REPORTER: PHILIP HAYTON
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION Pakistan's opposition leaders held a crucial round of talks on Wednesday (27 April) to reconsider terms for ending their confrontation with the government. The confrontation, which followed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's landslide election win last month (March), has caused some 250 deaths in riots and demonstrations. The country was plunged into political turmoil, and there is martial law in three main cities. The opposition Pakistan National Alliance, meanwhile, claimed that 40 of its leaders were arrested on Sunday (24 April) as Mr. Bhutto's government imposed even harsher controls over the situation. A hasty meeting of its remaining leaders in Lahore, the Punjab capital, set up a new opposition 'high command' the same day.
SYNOPSIS: On Saturday (23 April) supporters gathered defiantly outside their headquarters in the city. Tension was running high after the previous day had seen the most widespread political violence in Pakistan's 30-year history.
Leaders of the nine-party opposition alliance met as reports came in of at least 40 dead and more than 30 injured in clashes across the country. They later issued a statement declaring that martial law was illegal. Here's a report from Lahore on a pro-government demonstration.