Pakistan police arrest hundreds ahead of new CJ protests: opposition

[JURIST] Pakistani police have arrested hundreds of opposition activists suspected of planning future demonstrations against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's controversial suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official profile; JURIST news archive], according to Pakistan opposition leaders Sunday. The Pakistani government, however, has denied any knowledge of anticipatory arrests ahead of new protests planned to take place across Pakistan Monday. The upcoming rallies have been planned by an coalition organized by the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, a group which includes the support of former civilian prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif [BBC profiles]. Sharif's political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N party (Nawaz) [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder], says that police have detained hundreds in the past three days.

Chaudhry was removed earlier this month after allegations that he misused his influence to get his son jobs and promotions [JURIST report]. Justice Rana Bhagwandas [Wikipedia profile], the only Hindu judge on the court, has since been named the acting chief justice [JURIST report]. Several judges, as well as one of Pakistan's three deputy attorney generals [JURIST reports] resigned in protest over the suspension last week, claiming that it was politically motivated and an attack on the independence of the judiciary. The suspended chief justice was expected to reject any attempt by Musharraf to retain control of Pakistan's army, which he is supposed to relinquish this year. Musharraf's administration has adamantly maintained the suspension is motivated only by legal concerns. A panel of senior judges is scheduled to determine whether Chaudhry's removal was due to the charges against him on April 3. AP has more.

 

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