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PAKISTANIS RELEASE 200 AS GESTURE OF GOOD WILL

After a weekend of violent anti-government protests and mass arrests in Karachi, the Pakistani government late Sunday announced the release of 200 imprisoned opposition leaders and activists.

Ghous Ali Shah, the chief executive of southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, said the release was intended as a goodwill gesture toward the opposition, which is demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation.

Sharif dismissed the Sindh provincial government last year and imposed federal rule on the southern province, the stronghold of the ethnic-based Muttahida Qami Movement and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

The two groups have joined a 19-party opposition alliance staging nationwide demonstrations to press their demand for Sharif's resignation.

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