Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lawyers vs the General

As lawyers in Pakistan take to the streets in fierce defiance of martial law, Iftikhar Chaudhry - the Chief Justice who sparked the crisis - issues a warning to Musharraf in an exclusive statement smuggled out from under house arrest

By Andrew Buncombe and Omar Waraich in Islamabad

"Pakistan’s ousted Chief Justice has issued a message of defiance from house arrest, accusing General Pervez Musharraf of acting illegally, and demanding the restoration of the rule of law.

In a statement passed to The Independent, Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose home has been surrounded by dozens of armed police and his phone lines cut, warned General Musharraf that he would not be deterred from launching a fresh struggle to restore the constitution and the rule of law. He also dismissed the general’s claims that the judiciary was interfering with the government’s efforts to combat terrorism.

Mr Chaudhry, who is now at the centre of the crisis in Pakistan after refusing to ratify General Musharraf’s order suspending the country’s constitution, said: “I and all the honourable judges of the Supreme Court were exercising our jurisdiction in accordance with the law and constitution and are determined to do so in the future.”

The judge, who has been a thorn in General Musharraf’s side for months and has become a rallying figure for opponents of the military regime, was sacked on Saturday after leading seven Supreme Court justices in refusing to ratify the decree that ushered in emergency rule......"

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