Lawyers observe ‘black day’, Nawaz pulls out of cabinet

May 12th, 2008 - 11:59 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, May 12 (IANS) The issue of reinstatement of judges, sacked by President Pervez Musharraf last year, was pushed to the centre-stage of Pakistani politics Monday with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz pulling out of the coalition cabinet and lawyers across Pakistan observing a ‘black day’. The PML-N decided to pull out of the cabinet following failure of talks with coalition partner Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over the restoration of judges.

Former prime minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, however, told reporters here that his party MPs would continue to sit on the treasury benches and support the government from outside.

Lawyers observed a ‘black day’ Monday to mark the first anniversary of the riots in Karachi that broke out when sacked chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was to address a rally in the port city. Over 50 people died in the May 12 violence last year.

Lawyers wearing black armbands held protest rallies in Pakistan cities and stayed away from courts. They also hoisted black flags on rooftops of bar council buildings.

The protesters demanded that the government arrest the culprits responsible for the riots in which several innocent people lost their lives.

The deadline set for reinstating the judges sacked by President Musharraf last year also expired Monday, providing another reason for lawyers to stage noisy protests in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and several other cities.

The Pakistan Bar Council has convened a meeting in Lahore May 16 to evolve a strategy in this regard.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the Punjab Bar Council PBC), the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) joined in the protests and observed a complete boycott of court proceedings.

SCBA vice president Ghulam Nabi Bhatti lauded the sacrifices made by lawyers to press for an independent judiciary and the rule of law in the country.

LBA president Manzoor Qadir called for the immediate release of the inquiry report into the May 12 riots.

Riots erupted across Karachi May 12, 2007, as Chaudhry arrived in the city to address a lawyers’ gathering. Roads were blocked, cars burnt and hundreds of people were arrested. Chaudhry was confined to Karachi airport and was later flown back to Islamabad.

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