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Long march for sacked judges begins

Article published on the 2008-06-10 Latest update 2008-06-10 14:59 TU

Lawyers chant as Chaudhry a leaves his residence in Islamabad (Photo: Reuters)

Lawyers chant as Chaudhry a leaves his residence in Islamabad
(Photo: Reuters)

Hundreds of lawyers and political activists joined a rally in the central Pakistani city of Multan today at the start of what they call a "long march" to the capital to demand the reinstatement of judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf last year. The former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry joined them after driving from his Islamabad home.

The protest, in reality a car cavalcade, hits Lahore, where Chaudhry is due to make a speech, on Wednesday, before moving on to Islamabad wher the lawyers threaten to mount a sit-in outside parliament.

The crowd in Multan shouted "Go, Musharraf, go!", adding to pressure on the former general to quit his post. He has denied rumours that he is thinking of retiring and recently declared that he would not be reduced to a "useless vegetable" while in the post.

Thousands of lawyers set off rom various cities, including the commercial capital Karachi, on Monday.

The fate of the judges, who were sacked by Musharraf when he declared a state of emergency last year, has become a problem for the government which was elected last February.

Prime Minister Yousouf Raza Gilani freed Chaudhry from house arrest in March but has not reinstated him or his colleagues.

Raja Alum Abassi, a former president of the Islamabad Bar Association, says that the lawyers are running out of patience.

"They have been sacked with one stroke of the pen, so they should be restored in the same manner," he told RFI. "And thereafter, if you want some amendment in the constitution, that should be done later on."

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pulled his Muslim League (PML-N) out of the government over the question and has since demanded that Musharraf be tried for treason.

On Monday, Gilani's People's Party fell into line on the latter question, calling for the president to be impeached and prosecuted.