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Pakistan government limits capital city rallies ahead of Chaudhry march

[JURIST] The government of Pakistan [official website; JURIST news archive] Friday instituted a two-month ban on unauthorized rallies of more than five people in the capital city of Islamabad. The move came only one day before a planned march from Islamabad to the city of Abbotabad to protest the dismissal and ongoing trial of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive]. A lawyer for Chaudhry told AP that the marchers plan on ignoring the ban, and will not seek government permission for their protest. Several television stations have reportedly been told that they will not be allowed to cover the march. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf told [press release] the media on Wednesday not to "politicize a purely judicial and legal matter," and to follow the regulations set down by Pakistan's media regulatory authority. The Pakistan Army Friday also expressed its ongoing support [statement] for Musharraf.

A previous attempt to restrict a rally for Chaudhry in Karachi last month turned violent [JURIST report], resulting in 41 deaths. Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders believe Chaudhry's suspension to be an assault on the independence of the country's judiciary and an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. Musharraf suspended [JURIST report] Chaudhry in March for allegedly misusing his influence [JURIST report] to obtain jobs and promotions for his son. AP has more.

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