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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 12:50 GMT
Judges quit in Pakistan dispute
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
The chief justice has a reputation for independence
A number of judges have resigned in Pakistan in continuing protests over the suspension of the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Lawyers have staged more street protests but there have been no repetitions of their recent bloody confrontations with the police.

President Pervez Musharraf suspended Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on 9 March for alleged abuse of office.

Critics say he is trying to muzzle the judiciary in an election year.

On Friday Gen Musharraf apologised to the private Geo TV station after police raided it, smashing doors, equipment and furniture.

'In vain'

"I have waited a few days before addressing you, in the hope something will be done to remedy the harm done to the judicial organ of the state," Lahore High Court Judge Jawad S Khawaja said in a resignation letter sent to the president on Monday, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Pakistani policemen beat a lawyer during a rally in Lahore

"It seems I have waited in vain."

In Karachi, the president of the High Court bar, Iftikhar Javed Qazi, said that four lower court judges in Karachi and a lower court judge in another southern city, Pannoaqil, had handed in their resignations.

Meanwhile the government has lifted a ban on the main current affairs programme of Geo TV, Aaj Kamran Khan Ke Sath (Today with Kamran Khan).

The ban was part of government moves against the media for their coverage of the protests against the suspension of Mr Chaudhry.

Gen Musharraf has himself been interviewed for the programme that will be broadcast on Monday evening.

Government challenged

On Saturday police in Lahore fired tear gas and used batons to disperse hundreds of lawyers rallying in support of Mr Chaudhry.

In Islamabad, 14 policeman were suspended for carrying out the raid on Geo TV.

Chief Justice Chaudhry has acquired a reputation for independence and has challenged the government on several cases.

Mr Chaudhry's lawyers said on Saturday that the security forces had removed barricades around his house and restored his telephone and television services which had been cut off.

He has made two appearance before the Supreme Judicial Council, a panel of judges investigating the charges against him.

Details of the charges have not been made public.

The chief justice has vowed to fight his case and denies wrong-doing.

Lawyers say his suspension is an assault on judicial independence.


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