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Emergency: Day II
500 held in Pak crackdown
Opposition leaders, lawyers in line of fire
Rezaul H. Laskar

Islamabad, November 4
In a major crackdown, Pakistani security agencies today rounded up opposition leaders, lawyers and human rights activists and put under house arrest sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar M. Chaudhry amid speculation that President Pervez Musharraf may defer the January elections.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Asma Jahangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, PML-N acting chief Javed Hashmi and former ISI chief Hamid Gul were among those either detained or placed under house arrest within hours of clamping of emergency.

Chaudhry, who was at the centre of a confrontation between the judiciary and Musharraf, was placed under house arrest after a Supreme Court Bench headed by him annulled the General’s decision to impose emergency.

The police carried out raids targeting leaders of political parties in many parts of the country, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta and Hyderabad, as part of efforts to prevent any protests against the emergency.

Putting fetters on the media, Musharraf promulgated two ordinances prohibiting them from publishing or broadcasting "statements that abet terrorist activities or terrorism".

Facing a barrage of questions at a press conference, Prime Minister Shuakat Aziz said, “There have been 400 to 500 preventive arrests in the country,” giving the first official figure since Musharraf imposed emergency rule.

The police today raided the office of the Human Rights Commission and arrested several activists and officials. Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan and senior lawyers Munir A.Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd and Tariq Mehmood were detained or placed under house arrest.

Justifying clamping of emergency, Musharraf said in state-run Pakistan TV that increasing judicial activism and a spurt in terrorism and extremism had paralysed and demoralised the government and inaction at this juncture was suicidal for the country.

Gul, a staunch critic Musharraf’s role in the US-led war on terror, said “it (emergency) is a big blow to the country...It is not an emergency, it’s martial law. One man has put the country at stake to save his rule.”

Hashmi, before being arrested in the central city of Multan, told reporters that Musharraf’s days are numbered. He said the time has come to end the political role of the army.

Imran Khan, who heads his Tehreek-i-Insaaf party, said Musharraf had committed "treason", which is punishable by death. — PTI

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New CJ overrules Chaudhry’s order

Islamabad, November 4
Pakistan’s new Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar has over-ruled his predecessor Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s order annulling emergency and cancelled all cases that were being heard by the Supreme Court, including legal challenge to President Pervez Musharraf’s re-election in uniform.

Dogar, who was sworn in by Musharraf as the Chief Justice of the apex court shortly after the imposition of emergency yesterday, said in a statement that the court had not passed any order against the Provisional Constitutional Order issued by the military ruler to suspend the Constitution and fundamental rights.

The order issued by Chaudhry and six other judges was the last act of defiance before they were removed from the Supreme Court by security forces. They also refused to endorse the Provisional Constitutional Order.

Dogar said the roster of cases issued by Chaudhry had been "cancelled" and a revised roster would be issued. Among the cases that have been cancelled is the legal challenge to Musharraf’s re-election in uniform in the October 6 presidential poll.

The statement said "those judges of the Supreme Court who are not invited to take the oath (under the PCO) would cease to hold office and cannot exercise any judicial or administrative power". Dogar also removed the Supreme Court registrar Faqeer Hussain from his office and sent him to the Law Commission.

Dogar appointed additional registrar Sara Saeed as the acting registrar of the apex court. Before his appointment, Dogar was part of the 11-member Bench that was hearing petitions challenging Musharraf’s candidature in the presidential election.

Chaudhry was at the centre of a confrontation between the judiciary and Musharraf since the military ruler first tried to dismiss him in March. He was later reinstated by the apex court in July.

The order annulling the emergency issued by Chaudhry and the six other judges, including Justices Rana Bhagwandas, Nasir-ul-Mulk and Javed Iqbal, had restrained Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and civil and army officials from taking any steps that would affect the independence of the judiciary. — PTI

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