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Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 19:36 UK

Pakistani lawyers fete Chaudhry

Supporters surround deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry's vehicle as he arrived in Quetta
Mr Chaudhry was mobbed on arrival

Pakistan's deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, has landed in the western city of Quetta to a thunderous reception by hundreds of lawyers.

It was his first trip outside the capital Islamabad since being released from house arrest last week.

Quetta, the capital of the southern province of Balochistan, is Mr Chaudhry's native city.

The authorities in Islamabad have begun an investigation into the ransacking of another deposed judge's home.

The raid on Khalil-ur-Rahman Ramday's house was carried out on Saturday by junior court staff, allegedly on the orders of the current chief justice, the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan reports.

The newly appointed Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani, has denied his government had anything to do with the incident.

The chairman of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, Asif Ali Zardari, described it as "an attempt to destabilise the new government".

Jubilant lawyers

President Musharraf dismissed Mr Chaudhry and about 60 other senior judges in November at the same time as implementing emergency rule.

But Mr Gillani last week ordered his release.

Correspondents say that during his time under house arrest he became a symbol of resistance to the president's increasingly strong-armed rule.

Mr Chaudhry's supporters in Quetta carried baskets of rose petals to shower him as he stepped into the arrivals hall at the city's airport.

In the searing heat outside, jubilant lawyers in dark black suits called for the president to be removed from office and sent to jail.

Soon afterwards, the former chief justice's bullet-proof car broke down and had to be towed by another car along the 12-km (seven-mile) route towards Quetta.

Correspondents say that lawyers formed a human shield around the vehicle as it crawled forward while anti-terrorism police in trucks with mounted machine-guns travelled in front and behind.




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