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Friday, November 28, 1997 Published at 07:16 GMT


World: South Asia

Protesters halt Pakistani PM court case

Sajjad Ali Shah versus Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan's constitutional crisis

The trial of Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has been halted after his supporters forced their way into the Supreme Court building in Islamabad


[ image: Sajjad Ali Shah: position unsure]
Sajjad Ali Shah: position unsure
Protesters shouted abuse against the Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah, who was hearing a case of contempt of court, which could lead to the Prime Minister's disqualification if he is found guilty. The court adjourned for the day.

The protest is the latest twist in the country's constitutional crisis, which started over the appointment of five new judges to the Supreme Court.


[ image: Nawaz Sharif: supporters halted his court hearing]
Nawaz Sharif: supporters halted his court hearing
Mr Ali Shah charged Mr Sharif with contempt after his outspoken criticism of the candidates. Mr Sharif responded by trying to remove him from office.

The two men are under considerable pressure from the country's powerful armed forces to resolve the situation constitutionally.

Mr Ali Shah's position in the court has become increasingly uncertain after an internal struggle emerged in the Supreme Court over his status. Four of his fellow judges in two separate hearings ruled he was suspended from office because he was not the most senior judge when he was appointed.

Friday's trouble started when one of Mr Sharif's Members of Parliament climbed over the gates in front of the court to get inside.

A crowd of a few hundred party supporters then began to follow him and, as the police and the security forces in riot gear stood by and did nothing, they pushed open the gates and ran into the court compound.

A few members of the crowd got into the court building and ran to windows and onto the roof of the entrance, chanting slogans against the Chief Justice.

Amid the commotion a court official ran to the courtroom and said the Chief Justice was in danger. The judges immediately adjourned proceedings and left the room.



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