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Archive for Sunday, March 18, 2007

Protesters, police clash over president’s decision

March 18, 2007

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— Pakistani police clashed with protesters for a second straight day Saturday over a decision by the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to suspend the country's chief justice.

The latest round of protests came in the eastern city of Lahore, the scene of demonstrations earlier this week. On Saturday, police lobbed tear gas canisters at lawyers in business suits who responded by throwing rocks, according to witness accounts and television footage.

Rashed Rahman, editor of the Post newspaper in Lahore, said that more than 100 lawyers were injured when police charged them with batons. He said police later ransacked about two dozen offices belonging to the protesters.

"The police apparently had orders to stop the protests at any cost, and they came out swinging," he said. "The level of violence has clearly escalated."

Unrest has grown quickly in Pakistan since March 9, when Musharraf suspended the Supreme Court's chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, citing unspecified abuses of power. Chaudhry had been expected to rule on several key cases this year, including the timing of upcoming elections and on whether Musharraf can retain his role as head of the army while also serving as president.

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