Pakistanis raced through the main bazaar stoning police and setting buses ablaze here today in one of a number of violent demonstrations in several cities by crowds furious about the execution of former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
As rioters here called for the overthrow of the military ruler who ordered the hanging, Gen Zia ul-Haq, steel-helmeted police fired dozens of tear-gas shells into the mob and charged repeatedly with cane staves.
Scores of arrests were reported. At least 200 demonstrators were seen in custody here near the jail where Bhutto was hanged. But crowds of about 5,000 regrouped, and each time police tried to advance down the main street, stones and bricks arched through the air from side roads and drove them back.
Although the protests clearly were more intense the Zia expected, it was difficult this soom after Bhutto's death to assess their importance to the future of the Zia government, which has called for elections in Novermber.
The protests were reported particularly intense in Bhutto's home province of Sind. The military government banned Pakistan International Airlines from Flying journalists to Karachi, the first stop on the way to the small walled cemetery where Bhutto was buried after the predawn hanging.
Diplomats were warned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that for "security reasons" they will not be allowed into the interior of Sind without permission.
The village of Naudero, near the burial ground, was blocked off by the military.
The town of Larkana, which Bhutto represented in parliament, staged its biggest demonstration, in defiance of a martial law prohibited on political activity. About 30,000 people paraded through the streets after saying prayers for the executed leader, and police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse them, reports reaching here said.
Reuters said Thursday night that the government reported prayer meetings by Bhutto supporters were followed disturbances in the cities of Lahore, Faislabad, Multana, Sialkot and Gujranwala.The government said 400 of the 3,000 mourners in Lahore went on a stone-throwing rampage, damaging two buses and several cars. In Faislabad, police used batons to disperse a stone-throwing group who stayed behind after a pryer assembly that drew 4,000.
Zia, meanwhile, said in a telephone interview with a British television network that he is sure "I have done the right thing" by allowing Bhutto's execution becaust "it showed that nobody, whether high or low, is above the law. And this should be a unifying factor rather than a factor for the division of the country," Reuter reported.
Three separate riots were reported in Karachi. Banks were attacked, vehicles stoned and burned, and a police officer was attacked with a knife. He fired three shots into the air to disperse the mob, according to the reports.
There is widespread criticism of the military's handling of Bhutto and for the treatment of his second wife, the Begum Nusrat Bhutto, and his daughter, Benazir, 25. Both are being kept isolated under house arrest at a police camp about 15 miles from Rawalpindi.
This morning, 35 women drove to the house, taking with them a copy of the Koran. In accordance with Pakistani custom, they wanted to present the Moslem Holy Book to the begum and Benazir, offer condolences and say prayers. Police turned them away and refused to take the Koran and deliver it to the Bhutto women.
Zia had predicted virtually no immediate public reaction to the execution, although he conceded privately there might be some trouble after a while. He apparently thought the public silence over Bhutto before the hanging signaled consent for his actions.
During the Rawalpindi riot, police were taunted by women for lacking their mothers and sisters, for being "Zia's dogs."
The loyalties of some police looked strained. A few appeared ashamed. Others, harangued by women after making arrests, agreed to let their captives go.
There were no signs of leadership during the protest from those ostensibly in charge of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party or from his former senior lieutenants. On the contrary, Bhutto's cousin, Mumtaz Bhutto, and the former finance minister, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, arrived for a Rawalpindi pryer meeting an hour late, and left once the violence started.
Women led the riot. They came from shacks in the bazaars and from some of pakistan's richest families. Some courted arrest, surrounded the police to weep and argue with them and shouted slogans in their faces. One woman was bundled into a police truck, and when a policeman tried to climb in after her, she took off her sandals and beat him fiercely about the face.
A Pakistani flag was torn up. A red, black and green People's Party flag was nailed to a huge fir tree in Liaqat Park.
After pryers for Bhutto, the crowd surged out the park gates in the street. Police ran to head them off, staves swishing down on the heads and shoulders of demonstrators. Tear gas was fired. Two buses were stopped and set ablaze and a jeep was stolen. A main road was barricaded with concrete slabs.
A group of women surrounded a police bus containing arrested demonstrators and pulled them through the windows to freedom.
"So this is an Islamic state," one of the women screamed contemptuously at a policeman running toward her with a raised stave. "Here I am. Come and kill me. Then you can go and murder the children."
News services reported today that Pakistani newspapers began revealing details of the secret and closely guarded excution that differed sharply with the sparse information contained in special editions published right after Bhutto's death.
In those first stories, Bhutto was reported to have shouted his innocence as the hangman strapped his legs together.
But today's accounts quoted informed sources as saying Bhutto shed his customary cool demeanor and resisted the jailers who took him to the gallows-a report that is likely to make Bhutto appear less heroic in death.
The progovernment Urdu-language daily Nawa-I-Waqt (Boice of the Times) said Bhutto's lawyers led him to believe until the final days that he would be spared. When Bhutto got his final death notice two days before the hanging "his condition changed suddenly and he wept constantly," the paper said.
Minutes before the hanging, Bhutto refused Warden Chaudry Yar Mohammed's orders to come out of his cell. (The warden held him by his arms, but he resisted. He was put on a stretcher" and carried to the gallows, wher ejailers helped him climb the platform, the paper said. CAPTION: Picture 1 Women were at the forefront of violent protests yesterday in rawalpindi against the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. AP Picture 2 and 3, Pakistanis gather in Rawalpindi park, left, to pray for hanged former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto before rioting that broke out later, leading to arrest of scores of antigovernment demonstrators, including women at right. UPI/AP; MAP, By Dave Cook - The Washington Post