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Chaudhry asks lawyers to fight on

Pakistan’s deposed chief justice urges lawyers to press on with their campaign to restore judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf.

world Updated: May 25, 2008 23:40 IST

Pakistan’s deposed chief justice urged lawyers on Sunday to press on with their campaign to restore judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf declared emergency rule in November and ousted dozens of judges to avoid legal challenges to his rule.

The deposed top judge, Iftekhar Mohammed Chaudhry, told thousands of lawyers in Faisalabad early on Sunday that the Supreme Court had passed an order restricting the president’s actions on November 3, the same day the emergency was declared.

Chaudhry promised those who “violated” the order would be “punished”.

Pakistan’s new government has been bogged down in differences over how to bring back the judges, prompting the lawyers’ movement to plan a new round of protests in June.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani rejected on Sunday a suggestion his government was set on confronting Musharraf, but newspapers said a destabilising showdown was looming.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s widower and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, on Saturday unveiled proposed constitutional changes that would strip Musharraf of his powers.

Gilani, asked by a reporter in the eastern city of Lahore about confrontation with Musharraf, said the constitutional changes represented the stand of Bhutto and her party, and there was no intention of confrontation.

“As far as the presidency is

concerned, we respect the president, we’re talking about our manifesto, Benazir Bhutto’s manifesto. We’re talking about our programme, we’re not talking about any confrontation,”

Gilani said.

Jihad to go on: Mehsud

Pakistan’s Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud has said any peace deal with the government here would not cover attacks by his fighters against the US-led forces in Afghanistan.

“Islam does not recognise any man-made barriers or boundaries. Jihad in Afghanistan will continue,” he told a rare news conference at Kotkai in South Waziristan tribal agency when asked if the proposed peace agreement with the Pakistan government would deter cross-border infiltration.

Mehsud also denied he was involved in Bhutto’s assassination. “Her father and two brothers had also been killed. Do we know who killed them? Politicians have their own rivalries. They know who their enemies are.” But he denied links with the Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.