Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tear gas fired at protesting Pakistani lawyers

KARACHI, Feb 21 (AFP) - Police fired tear gas in Karachi Thursday as lawyers in Pakistan opposed to President Pervez Musharraf took to the streets in the first protests since Monday's elections. Police baton-charged and fired tear gas shells at lawyers protesting in Karachi to have judges reinstated after Musharraf sacked them last year.

Six people, including lawyers, were arrested outside the district court, police said. “We have arrested a few people and police had to use tear gas to disperse lawyers who were trying to hold a rally,” senior police official Tahir Naved told AFP. In the eastern city of Lahore, about 2,000 lawyers chanted, “Go Musharraf, go” and, “Restore independence of judiciary” during a rally.

They staged a protest sit-in outside the provincial parliament before dispersing peacefully. Similar rallies and meetings were held by lawyers in other cities across Pakistan to protest against President Musharraf’s declaration of emergency on November 3, and sacking of 63 judges including the then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who was also detained at his home. Lawyers across Pakistan have held regular Thursday demonstrations since the judges' dismissal and have threatened a large-scale march on Islamabad next month if they are not reinstated.

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