Pakistan lawyers set Aug 14 deadline for restoring judges

July 19th, 2008 - 11:58 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, July 19 (IANS) Pakistan’s agitating lawyers Saturday laid down a new Aug 14 deadline for restoring the Supreme Court judges President Pervez Musharraf had sacked after imposing an emergency last November, warning the coalition government of a civil disobedience movement if it did not fulfil the demand. “We have decided to start a civil disobedience movement on Aug 15 if the judges were not restored by Aug 14,” Lahore Bar Council president Anwar Kamal said at a press conference that was also addressed by other leaders of the lawyer fraternity, including Supreme Court Bar Association chief Aitzaz Ahsan.

Aug 14 is Pakistan’s Independence Day.

President Musharraf had sacked more than 60 judges of the Supreme Court and four high courts on Nov 3 when he imposed the emergency. Since then, lawyers, political parties and civil society organizations have been protesting against the sackings and demanding their restoration.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the coalition, had promised to restore the judges by April 30. As the deadline passed, it said the judges would be reinstated through a constitutional package.

Upset over this, major coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) pulled its ministers from the government but continued in the alliance.

Last month, the lawyers staged a Long March that started from Quetta and ended here after covering a distance of more than 2,200 km to press their demand. The event, however, failed to impress the PPP and one of the ministers described it as “a good picnic”.

“Now we are firm that the lawyers will start the civil disobedience movement and we will also court arrest throughout the country,” Kamal told reporters.

The lawyers also criticized the government’s peace moves with the Taliban in the North West Frontier Province, saying there should be no relaxation and terrorists should be dealt with an iron hand.

At a convention in Lahore earlier Saturday, the lawyers passed a resolution criticizing the government for failing to control the law and order situation and terrorism in the country. Another resolution demanded immediate steps to control soaring inflation.

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