Clashes erupt near Pakistan court

Qazi Hussain Ahmad, chief of the Islamist coalition, and at least seven other politicians from the coalition have been arrested during protests outside Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday.

Clashes erupt near Pakistan court

Qazi Hussain Ahmad, chief of the Islamist coalition, and atleast seven other politicians from the coalition have been arrested duringprotests outside Pakistan'sSupreme Court on Friday.

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators and made arrests in abid to stifle protests over the Pakistani president's ouster of Pakistan's topjudge.

President Pervez Musharraf's week-old decision to suspendjudge Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, over allegations that he abused his positionas Supreme Court head, has sparked nationwide protests.

Musharraf has been accused of underminging the judiciaryahead of national elections.

A judicialaccountability council at the Supreme Court had been scheduled to hearChaudhry's case on Friday, before which protests gained pace.

Pakistan's leader had promised thegovernment would not interfere in the disciplinary hearing of the country'sousted chief justice on charges he abused his authority.

More that50 activists and parliamentarians mainly belonging to the MuttahidaMajlis-i-Amal religious alliance were taken into custody around midnighton Thursday in the capital and its twin city of Rawalpindi, the Dawnnewspaper and other media reported.

Around 40lawyers were also detained in the central city of Lahorewhere there were clashes with police on Tuesday in which several dozen peoplewere injured.

Friday demonstrations

Protests were expected in Islamabad,Lahore and Karachi;the police have now banned any assembly of more thanfive people in a public place.

A senior interior ministry official said an additional1,000 police officers have been called in for deployment to reinforce3,000 already on duty in Islamabad.

Shahid Shamsi, a spokesman for Pakistan'smain alliance of Islamic parties, said: "We will carry the holy book inour hands and assemble outside the Supreme Court building to offer Fridayprayers and register our protest over action against the justice."

He said the government would be responsible for any troubleif it tried to keep the political leaders and workers from demonstrating.

TV show banned

Pakistani authorities also banned a popular talk show on aprivate television news channel amid a flood of scathing media criticism overthe issue.

GEO television's nightly current affairs show Aaj KamranKhan key Saat (Today with Kamran Khan), was taken off the air onThursday.

An international media watchdog condemned the banning of theGEO news programme, saying the rush to "roll back" press freedom in Pakistanwas accelerating.

The Committee to Protect Journalists in a statement releasedin New York said: "Underincreasing political pressure at home and abroad, the Musharraf government isresorting to heavy-handed tactics in dealing with critics and the independentmedia."

The ban on GEO's show came two days after the SupremeJudicial Council cautioned broadcasters and press to refrain from indulging ina "media trial" on the issue.

The council also ordered the information ministry and thePakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to advise media "not toarrange or produce talk shows and other similar programmes concerning issuespending before the council".


Further concerns have surfaced after reports Chaudhry wasmanhandled by police.

Police prevented Chaudhry from attending a hearing on hiscase on Tuesday at the Supreme Court.

Newspapers said he was roughed up, and one, Pakistan's Nation,printed a photograph showing burly policemen bundling Chaudhry towards the opendoor of a government car, with one officer leaning on his head.

Javed Iqbal, the actingchief justice, has summoned several police officers to appear beforehim on March 19 to explain their alleged mistreatment of Chaudhry.

Musharraf on Thursday said he would accept any verdict bythe council, which could include sacking Chaudhry.

In a public meeting in Gujranwala,in the eastern Punjabprovince, he said: "I promise to you that the judiciary will take [a]decision. We do not need to interfere in this."

"They can give whatever decision they like ... I willaccept that."

The government has not madepublic any details of the complaints against Chaudhry and insists its decisionto have a five-judge panel chaired by Iqbal examine the allegations isnon-political.

Chaudhry has pursued several cases embarrassing to thegovernment, and opposition parties claim authorities are seeking a morecompliant judiciary ahead of parliamentary elections, due within a year.

Musharraf is also expected toseek re-election as president-in-uniform from the outgoing assembly.

Source: Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16