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Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s patience with his suspended chief justice is fast running out.

 

At a government rally late on Sunday night in Islamabad, Musharraf hinted the movement was being hijacked by vested interests and warned that the agitation must end. The rally came on a day that saw 18 people lose their lives as Karachi went up in flames.

 

“They have politicised a judicial issue. I’ve never interfered in judicial matters and inshallah I never will. We must uphold the unique position of the judiciary,” he said.

 

Earlier, Musharraf dismissed speculation that an emergency would be declared. “I hear a lot of people, undercurrents of that whatever is happening today – maybe an emergency is declared. Let me assure you ladies and gentlemen, there is no question of that, nothing of that sort is happening,” he said.

But there seems little doubt that Chaudhary’s agitation is seen as a threat. The MQM – Musharraf’s ally in Sindh – blocked roads leading from Karachi airport thereby preventing Chaudhary from entering the city.

The rally he was to address was never allowed to happen, his supporters were attacked in the streets and Chaudhary was put on a flight to Islamabad.

 

In fact, Dawn News correspondent Khawar Khan told CNN-IBN that Chaudhary’s defense council has also claimed that the sacked Chief Justice was manhandled at the Karachi Airport.

There were no police or paramilitary forces on the streets as the violence raged and none at all when gunmen opened fire on the office of the private television channel Aaj TV.

 

But the Government denies encouraging the violence.

Well, they were not politically motivated. We have said time and again, both president and the prime minister have stated that we must give a chance to the supreme judicial council as well as to the supreme court,” said Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Tariq Azeem.

 

Musharraf may have won this round. But he will have to find answers to the long-term challenge posed by Iftikhar Chaudhary

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