Protesters gather at Pakistan court

Hundreds of protesters defied a security clampdown to gather in Pakistan's capital on Tuesday and demand that President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reinstate the country's top judge.

Protesters gather at Pakistan court

Hundreds of protesters defied a security clampdown to gatherin Pakistan'scapital on Tuesday and demand that President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reinstatethe country's top judge.

Musharraf removed the chief justice of the Supreme Court on March 9,sparking a political storm that is testing the general's eight-year hold onpower.

Opposition parties and lawyers staged the protest — the latest in a seriesof demonstrations — in front of the Supreme Court, where suspended ChiefJustice Ifitkhar Mohammed Chaudhry faced a third hearing Tuesday intoallegations he abused his office.

"Musharraf, killer of justice," the crowd chanted.

Authorities deployed hundreds of police and paramilitary troops near thebuilding and along neighboring roads. Concrete blocks and coils of barbed wiresealed off the area to vehicles. Police scuffled briefly with demonstrators whotried to follow Chaudhry's car into the court complex, but the protest wasotherwise peaceful.

"Everyone should support the chief justice, it is our moral duty,"Makhdoom Amin Fahim, president of the opposition Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy,told the crowd. "Everyone should also help us get rid of PresidentMusharraf, who is the root cause of every problem."

The government insists it acted constitutionally in suspending Chaudhry. Ithas tasked a panel of three judges to examine whether he abused his position bysecuring unwarranted privileges and bullying officials to give his son a policejob.

However, critics of Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, accuse himof seeking to tame the court to ensure it doesn't stand in the way of hiscontinued rule. Lawyers are on strike and opposition parties have joined themin nationwide demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.

Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani said Tuesday's demonstration waspermitted.

"Everyone is allowed to express their views, but it should bepeaceful," he said.

However, authorities on Monday placed the leader of an alliance of religiousparties under house arrest. The Pakistan People's Party, one of two secularparties in Fahim's alliance, complained that police had picked up a dozen ofits protest organizers overnight.

Musharraf is expected to seek re-election as president from the outgoinglegislature, a move the opposition could challenge in the Supreme Court,especially if he refuses to give up his post as army chief.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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