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Pakistanis Rally in Support of  the Ousted Chief Justice

  • VOA News

Thousands of Pakistanis cheered and shouted words of encouragement to the nation's suspended chief justice as his convoy traveled from the capital, Islamabad, to the eastern city of Lahore.

The automobile carrying Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry was strewn with rose petals and surrounded by well-wishers on Saturday, as the motorcade slowly passed through the streets.

The embattled justice spoke briefly upon arriving in the city of Gujrat. He called for unity among his supporters, and he urged lawyers and activists to stand "shoulder-to-shoulder."

Chaudhry is due in Lahore later today (Saturday) to deliver a speech to the Lahore Court Bar Association.

Rallies have been held across Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf suspended Chaudhry in March, charging him with misconduct. Chaudhry and his supporters argue that the suspension is not constitutional.

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On Friday, police in Lahore detained about 400 opposition activists ahead of a planned demonstration. Authorities called the move a preventive measure.

A judicial panel hearing the case against Chaudhry is scheduled to reconvene May ninth.

Critics of General Musharraf accuse him of trying to weaken the judiciary ahead of possible legal challenges to his attempts to continue as Pakistan's president and military chief.

The government has not specified the charges against Chaudhry. Media reports refer to allegations that he used his position to help his son get a public sector job.

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