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Former Pakistan PM Bhutto barred from meeting with ousted chief justice

[JURIST] Police blocked former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC profile] from visiting deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] Saturday, despite orders issued Friday lifting her house arrest [JURIST report] and allowing her to freely move about the country. Bhutto used a megaphone to chant "He is the chief justice, he is the real chief justice," as she tried to move through the police blockade that encircled Chaudhry's residence in Islamabad. Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan [JURIST report] last month after a decade of self-imposed exile in England and Dubai, also planned to move forward with a pro-democracy rally in direct defiance of a declaration of emergency rule [PDF text] issued by President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile]. Bhutto said that the protest could be avoided if Musharraf ended emergency rule, reinstated Pakistan's constitution, stepped down as Chief of Army Staff, and allowed planned parliamentary elections to occur in January.

Musharraf issued the emergency declaration [JURIST news archive] last week citing an increase in Islamic extremism and interference by the judiciary in executive affairs. The declaration has sparked nationwide protests and resulted in the detention of hundreds of lawyers, rights activists and opposition figures [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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