ISLAMABAD: Pakistani lawyers campaigning for the restoration of a deposed chief justice vented their anger yesterday against President Asif Ali Zardari and warned of a storm of protests if their demands are ignored.
Lawyers across Pakistan observed the day as “black day” to protest against imposition of state of emergency, suspension of basic human rights, removal of then Chief Justice Iftkhar Chaudhry by former President Pervez Musharraf. Thousands of lawyers across the country held protests to mark the first anniversary of the imposition of a six-week stint of emergency rule.
“This legislative assembly will never indemnify acts of Musharraf which he took on Nov. 3, 2007,” Chaudhry told hundreds and thousands of people who had gathered in Rawalpindi to hear him. About 3,000 lawyers, political party workers and rights activists, many chanting “Go Zardari, go” gathered in Rawalpindi with a fresh call for Chaudhry to be reinstated.
“Don’t compel us to knock on the doors again,” lawyers’ firebrand leader Ali Ahmed Kurd told the rally. “We want the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in the country and if that doesn’t happen, the power of 100,000 lawyers and members of civil society will emerge like a storm,” Kurd said.
After declaring a state of emergency, Musharraf purged the judiciary of the independent-minded chief justice and other judges who Musharraf saw as a threat to his plans to hold on to power.
Musharraf’s resignation in August did not end the controversy over Chaudhry, and the failure of the government led by Zardari’s party to reinstate Chaudhry led to a split in the coalition.
Top leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) including leader of house Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Raja Zafarul Haq and Zafar Iqbal Jhagra attended the meeting to express their party’s support to Chaudhry.
Justice Chaudhry termed the Nov. 3, 2007 action as a martial law in the country. No Assembly has endorsed the martial law enforced on Nov. 3, he added.
“I am confident that the present Assembly will not endorse this martial law,” he said, adding the government, opposition, lawyers, politicians and other sections of the society have now realized that the supremacy of law and constitution is must for the country.
He further said that it was very unfortunate that democratic governments could rule the country for 24 years only. Judiciary was also responsible for backing the dictatorship in the country, he said.