Deposed CJ calls for Musharraf’s ouster | world | Hindustan Times
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Deposed CJ calls for Musharraf’s ouster

world Updated: Nov 07, 2007 00:18 IST
Kamal Siddiqi and Agencies
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"Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice," ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is under virtual house arrest in Islamabad, told lawyers by mobile phone on Tuesday.

"Don't be afraid. God will help us and the day will come when you'll see the constitution supreme and no dictatorship for a long time," Chaudhry said in a call to the people to "rise up" before the military authorities cut his phone connection, along with others. The services resumed later.

As protests by lawyers continued in different parts of the country, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto landed in Islamabad from Karachi, but ruled out immediate talks with President Pervez Musharraf on a political understanding.

Bhutto said, "I am going to hold discussions with the leadership of other parties on the current situation and chalk out a joint strategy with them." The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader claimed that a meeting with General Musharraf, who has imposed "emergency plus" rule in the country and arrested hundreds of activists, was "not in her schedule during her stay in Islamabad".

In the meantime, hectic consultations were underway to determine the future course of action for the government. Federal State Minister, Tariq Azeem said that no decision had as yet been taken to hold elections on schedule — that were to be held in January.

On Tuesday, Azeem pointed out that the country was presently under emergency rule, the constitution was in abeyance and no decision has as yet been made for holding elections on schedule.

Under the emergency, Musharraf purged the Supreme Court of independent-minded judges. So far, nine judges have taken fresh oath. Prior to the imposition of the emergency, there were 17 judges in the apex court.

In their first ruling, the eight "set aside" a ruling of seven other rebellious judges, including Chaudhry, who had rejected the emergency as unconstitutional, court spokesman Arshad Muneer said.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who escaped from police over the weekend during a state of emergency, vowed on Tuesday to oppose President Musharraf from hiding. In a message passed to a news agency by his ex-wife Jemima, the former cricket star said he believed the United States had given its tacit approval to Musharraf to impose emergency.

"The police have ransacked my house and ill treated my family members," Imran said in the message. "I believe that the Americans are complicit or at the very least knew about this before it took place. They are backing Musharraf as he could never get his way if they were serious about stopping him," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Sadiq responded to the international criticism by saying its emergency declaration was an "internal matter."