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Dismissed Pakistan CJ summons lawyers to 'stand up for constitution'

[JURIST] Dismissed Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] Tuesday urged lawyers in Pakistan to resist President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule [JURIST report] and "stand up for the constitution." Speaking by telephone to a gathering of lawyers in the capital Islamabad, Chaudhry, currently under effective house arrest, said according to an AFP report, "I want lawyers to spread my message, the time for sacrifice has come". He called on the lawyers to "Tell people about this illegal and unconstitutional emergency", suggesting that the real reason for the decree was fear of an anticipated court ruling [JURIST report] against Musharraf's eligibility to run for re-election as president while still Army Chief of Staff: "The ruling junta was afraid that the court would rule against them but police are aware that the Supreme Court has always held constitution above all else and provided justice to the people". "Don't be afraid...", Chaudhry declared according to AP, "God will help us and the day will come when you'll see the constitution supreme and no dictatorship for a long time." Mobile phone service in Islamabad was cut off during Chaudhry's address, but it was unclear whether the interruption was an intentional effort to interfere with his speech. AP has more.

In a statement smuggled out of Chaudhry's residence and published by the London Independent Tuesday, Chaudhry offered an extended perspective on the situation:

The whole of the judiciary of Pakistan is struggling for the supremacy of the constitution. The Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO)|issued by General Musharraf has been declared a step to interfere in the independence of the judiciary, and therefore a judicial 'restraining' order against it had been issued by a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court, which has to be respected and enforced.

Any action by the government after the passing of this order is illegal, including the detention of lawyers and members of civil society whose only sin is that they opposed the emergency and the PCO. Up to 13 justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan have refused to take an oath under the PCO. Yesterday morning,the judges of the Supreme Court were stopped as they sought to carry out their judicial duty, including the hearing of a case by the full court regarding the PCO, about which the restraining order had been passed.

This order has been passed and those who defy it, defy the constitution. I and all the judges of the Supreme Court were exercising our jurisdiction in accordance with the law and constitution and are determined to do so in the future.
Chaudhry was dismissed from office Saturday after the imposition of emergency rule and replaced [JURIST report] by new Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, one of whose first official acts was declare void the Saturday ruling by the Chaudhry-led Supreme Court holding the emergency and Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order [JURIST reports] illegal. Dogar said the Court, newly reconstituted under the PCO, had issued no such order. AP has more. The PakTribune has local coverage.

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