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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 17:43 GMT
Pakistan chief justice: Lawyers' viewpoints
Pakistan's Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is being investigated by a closed hearing of senior judges over allegations that he misused his authority.

Here, two lawyers explain why his suspension is causing outrage not just in legal circles but among ordinary citizens.


Yasser Hamdani
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Today I cheered with other lawyers here in Islamabad.

The chief justice is a very popular figure in Pakistan. He has become a symbol for everything the people of Pakistan aspire to - modern, democratic society, where everyone is equal before the law.

People looked up to him. So there's no surprise that this story has provoked so much interest from everyone and it has even overshadowed the cricket world cup.

People are outraged because what is happening is a masquerade against democracy.

Not only is the chief justice denied the right to do his job and appear in an open hearing. The people of this country are denied media coverage of the story.

Fifteen private channels were taken off air when they showed pictures of the protests.

The same happened again today when an interview with a famous lawyer in Karachi voicing his protest was suddenly disrupted.

Waning popularity

When Musharraf came to power in 1999 he came on a crest wave of popularity, including from those who were disillusioned by the treatment of the Supreme Court by the former prime minister.

Now Musharraf has made a full circle and has become a worse persecutor of the judiciary than his predecessor. He is now like a Latin American dictator.

The country that was created by a constitutional process is now witnessing the brutalisation of civil society. People are protesting for something fundamental - their constitutional rights.

None of Musharraf's attempts at reform will amount to anything unless he treads the constitutional path - the path of the founding father of Pakistan, Mohamed Ali Jinnah.

What's at stake is beyond the borders of Pakistan. The country has a central place in the Islamic world and it should serve as a good example of a modern, democratic society for other Muslim countries to follow.


Lawyer injured in Lahore clashes
A lawyer is injured in Lahore clashes
I am a lawyer in Lahore working for the Supreme Court.

I took part in the protests yesterday against the suspension of the chief justice. We were protesting peacefully when police came to disperse us violently. A colleague of mine suffered injuries to his head.

The country's chief justice is being treated like a common criminal. His suspension is unconstitutional and the charges against him a baseless. We, the lawyers of the Supreme Court across Pakistan, are ready to appear as defendants for the chief justice.

It is clear that this is a retaliation for decisions he has taken in the past, that didn't suit the government.

Our demands are that the chief justice is restored to his position. Only an open trial is acceptable, otherwise it is a false hearing.

The people of Pakistan have the right to know why he is charged and what he is going through.

We are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Judiciary Council and then we'll decide what to do next. There is also a big question mark over whether the Supreme Judiciary Council is independent.

The whole nation is in shock. People think that if the country's chief justice is not safe, how can ordinary people feel safe?

People didn't expect this of the president. His action is dictatorial in nature. The lawyers are united against it and we are prepared to continue our opposition. Even the previous chief justice has condemned it. In my opinion, Mr Musharraf has dug his own grave by this illegal action.

Lawyers clash with riot police on the streets

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