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Pakistan deputy AG resigns over chief judge suspension

[JURIST] One of Pakistan's three deputy attorneys general resigned Tuesday, telling Reuters that the crisis over President Pervez Musharraf's March 9 suspension [JURIST report] of Chief Justice Iktikhar Chaudhry [official profile; JURIST news archive] for unspecified "misconduct" had made it "very difficult for me to perform my duties." The move by Nasir Saeed Sheikh follows the resignation of seven Pakistani judges [JURIST report] earlier this week in protest at what many Pakistani lawyers regard as a fundamental challenge by the Army chief to the prized independence of the country's judiciary. Reuters has more.

In other developments Tuesday, the country's Supreme Judicial Council [governing constitutional provisions] postponed until April 7 a third hearing on the misconduct allegations against Chaudhry following two other hearings last week. The hearing had been originally scheduled for March 21 [JURIST report], when a protest and a nationwide lawyers' strike have also been called. A bar spokesman said the protest would go ahead as planned. The Supreme Court of Pakistan meanwhile gave a judge there one week to investigate allegations that police mistreated Chaudhry on his way to his March 13 hearing after he refused to get into an official car. Reuters has more.

Musharraf said he suspended Chaudhry "after receiving numerous complaints and serious allegations for misconduct, misuse of authority and actions prejudicial to the dignity of the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan." He insisted over the weekend that he has no "personal differences" with Chaudhry, but the confrontation with the bar over the past week has arguably rocked his authority more than any other crisis in the eight years since he seized power from a civilian government. Pakistani lawyers have boycotted the courts [JURIST report] since Chaudhry's suspension and earlier street protests have resulted in injuries and arrests [JURIST report].

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