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Pakistan lawyers' protest leads to violent clash with police

[JURIST] Pakistani lawyers demanding that the government reinstate judges ousted last year [JURIST report] by former President Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive] clashed with police in Islamabad on Thursday, according to media reports. Television images showed police beating the lawyers with batons outside Parliament, in a confrontation that reportedly began after an estimated 100 demonstrators tried to enter the nearby Supreme Court [Bloomberg News report]. Hundreds of lawyers and other protesters had gathered for a sit-in outside the buildings, where Aitzaz Ahsan [profile], president of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association, told reporters [Daily Mail report] that an independent judiciary is essential to a stable government in Pakistan [JURIST news archive]. Protests also took place [AFP report] in the cities of Lahore, Karachi and Multan. The demonstrations came amid reports that four judges removed from the Peshawar High Court [official website], including the chief justice, would take new oaths Friday [Daily Mail report].

The Pakistani lawyers' movement [AHRC backgrounder; PBS report] renewed its protests last week after eight judges were reappointed [JURIST report] to the Sindh High Court in Karachi. Critics described that development as evidence of a "conspiracy" to undermine support for reinstatement of all the judges nationwide. Pakistan's coalition government dissolved [JURIST report] last week after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif [party profile; JURIST news archive] withdrew his Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) [party website] party over the failure to reach an agreement with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [party website] to reinstate the judges. Musharraf, who resigned [JURIST report] last month to avoid impeachment proceedings for firing the judges and other alleged abuses of authority, now faces the possibility of criminal charges [JURIST report].

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