Lawyers keep pressure on Musharraf, go easy on incoming government
(dpa) - Pakistani lawyers are keeping the pressure on embattled President Pervez Musharraf with a week-long protest but will go easy on the incoming government to give it breathing space, a protest leader said Monday.
Musharraf is the target of Black Flags Week, with lawyers and civil society groups demanding more than 60 senior judges he deposed last November be reinstated, retired judge and protest leader Tariq Menmood said in a telephone interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
They launched the protest Sunday, which marked the one-year anniversary of Musharraf dismissing chief Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
The Supreme Court later reinstated him, but Chaudhry and dozens of other judges were sacked and jailed after Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3 to prevent the Supreme Court from overturning his controversial re-election the previous month.
Chaudhry, a bitter political rival of Musharraf, is among a handful of judges who have not been set free after the president lifted emergency measures in mid-December.
Tens of thousands of lawyers have staged nationwide protests ever since to demand their release. Black Flags Week was a continuation of those protests, but with opposition parties promising to reinstate the judges it has lost some impetus.
Opposition parties that swept to power in February 18 national elections on Sunday vowed to restore the judges within 30 days after parliament convenes.
Lawyers will boycott work Thursday and hold protest rallies and the remainder of the week display black flags and hold seminars.
But the incoming government is not the target and lawyers "are much relieved" the incoming coalition government agreed to reinstate the judges, Tariq said.
"Black Flags Weeks is not creating any problems for the incoming government, but for General Musharraf, who is still in command, we want to continue the protest," he said.
When asked about the sacking while touring European Union capitals in a bid to improve his international profile early this year, Musharraf was defensive. "What do you do if a chief justice is politicized, inept, corrupt and nepotistic?" Musharraf asked, before insisting that the removal had been carried out constitutionally.