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Pakistan police arrest dozens of supporters of chief justice ahead of hearing

Pakistan police arrest dozens of supporters of chief justice ahead of hearing

Police arrested dozens of supporters of the ousted Supreme Court chief justice in overnight raids, ahead of a court hearing Wednesday on the judge's suspension, a spokesman for the main opposition party said.
Authorities also laid barbed wires to block a main road leading to the Supreme Court in the Pakistani capital. But hundreds of lawyers and supporters from opposition parties managed to reach the court and chanted slogans in favor of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as he arrived there to face the case against him.
Lawyers and opposition activists have organized several protests since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf removed Chaudhry on March 9, sparking a political crisis that is testing the general's grip on power.
The government insists it suspended Chaudhry only after receiving credible complaints that he had abused his office _ for example, by using his position to seek a plum police job for his son.
However, critics accuse the government of trying to oust an independent-minded judge ahead of possible legal challenges to Musharraf's continued rule.
Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for the Pakistan People's Party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, said Wednesday that police rounded up dozens of their supporters in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near Islamabad, and elsewhere.
"We condemn these arrests," he said.
Although no government official was immediately available for comment, authorities have said earlier that they briefly detain those activists who could disrupt law and order.
Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and claims he had restored true democracy, is expected to seek election to a new term as president from the current federal and provincial assemblies, which were elected in 2002. His supporters predict he will obtain a clear majority.
However, the opposition says the 2002 polls were fixed, and insists that only the lawmakers chosen in parliamentary elections due at the end of 2007 should have the right to elect the next head of state.
The opposition has also asked Musharraf to relinquish his post as the army chief.


Updated : 2021-08-04 05:31 GMT+08:00