Thursday, May 27, 2010

பாகிஸ்தான் Lawyers' Movement

pakistani lawyers have held a rally in a show of support for the judiciary in its row with the government over the appointment of judges.

The lawyers gathered outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad on Monday, chanting anti-government slogans.

The demonstrators objected to President Asif Ali Zardari's appointments to the judiciary, saying the actions were against the advice of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Following the president's move, the Supreme Court suspended Zardari's appointments on the grounds that they were unconstitutional.

Zardari had appointed Saquib Nisar, a judge in the Lahore High Court, as chief justice of that court and Khawaja Sharif, the current chief justice in Lahore, as a Supreme Court judge.

Earlier, Chaudhry had recommended Nisar to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Both Nisar and Khawaja refused to accept the government order, GEO television reported.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif called Zardari a threat to democracy.

The Supreme Court has the power to disqualify the president for breaking the law.

The conflict between Zardari and the judiciary was worsened after the Supreme Court removed his immunity against prosecution last November.
Several lawyers and journalists were injured and a Minister was beaten up as hundreds of anti-government lawyers and police clashed outside the Supreme Court on Saturday.

Earlier, the Chief Election Commissioner accepted the nomination of President Pervez Musharraf and rejected the objections to his eligibility.

The objections were raised by Justice (retd.) Wajihuddin Ahmed and Pakistan People’s Party deputy leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the other two candidates. Their nominations were also accepted.

Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Fahim announced separately that they would file constitutional petitions in the Supreme Court on Monday against the rejection of their objections.

The court on Friday dismissed a set of constitutional petitions challenging Gen. Musharraf’s candidature as “not maintainable” but did not go into the substance of the petitions about his holding dual office and his eligibility to contest while in uniform.

Protest march

On Saturday, the police fired several rounds of teargas and baton-charged about 500 lawyers who gathered outside the court in the morning for a protest march to the Election Commission, less than 500 metres away.

The protest was against the verdict and the acceptance of Gen. Musharraf’s nomination. Some activists of the Pakistan People’s Party, the Jamat-i-Islami and the Awami National Party also took part in the protest.

Ranged against the protesters were nearly 2,000 policemen.

More than two dozen lawyers were injured as stones and teargas shells flew and the police swung their canes at the protesters. Young lawyers covered legal luminary Aitzaz Ahsan as the police threw stones at him. Eminent human rights advocate Asma Jehangir’s clothes were stained with the blood of a lawyer who was standing next to her and was felled by a baton.

Several leading lawyers were arrested and released after a few hours, including Ali Ahmed Kurd who set off the day’s agitation.The police did not spare journalists either, six of whom were injured. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists called a “Black Day” for Sunday.

Journalists beat up Minister of State Tariq Azeem when he arrived on the scene in an ambulance.

Demonstrations by lawyers in other cities such as Karachi and Peshawar also turned violent.

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