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Pakistan PM drops complaints against journalists who defied protest ban

[JURIST] Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz [official profile] Wednesday ordered the dropping of all complaints previously lodged against approximately 200 journalists, opposition party members and pro-democracy activists who protested [JURIST report] Monday against an emergency media ordinance. The protest took place in defiance of a government ban on unauthorized rallies [JURIST report] issued by President Pervez Musharraf [official website] late last week, one day before demonstrators planned to march from the capital city of 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]. The ban outlawed demonstrations of more than five people in Islamabad for two months.

Chaudhry was suspended by Musharraf in March for allegedly misusing his influence [JURIST report] to obtain jobs and promotions for his son. 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. Since the suspension, media outlets have complained of growing government pressure [JURIST report] not to provide live coverage of rallies in support of Chaudhry. AP has more.

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