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Pakistanis Rally in Support of Suspended Chief Justice

Pakistan's suspended chief justice has urged his supporters to continue their fight to uphold the independence of the judiciary.

Itfikhar Mohammed Chaudhry spoke Sunday morning in Lahore, where thousands of Pakistanis stayed up through the night awaiting his arrival.

Chaudhry left Islamabad Saturday to drive the Grand Trunk Road to the capital of Punjab province.

Along the way, his automobile was showered with rose petals and slowed by crowds of well-wishers who surrounded the motorcade.

Rallies have been held across Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf suspended Chaudhry in March, charging him with misconduct. Chaudhry and his supporters argue that the suspension is not constitutional.

Saturday, General Musharraf, in a speech in Sindh province, accused lawyers of politicizing a judicial matter by holding protests.

Critics of General Musharraf accuse him of trying to weaken the judiciary ahead of possible legal challenges to his attempts to continue as Pakistan's president and military chief.

A judicial panel hearing the case against Chaudhry is scheduled to reconvene May ninth.

The government has not specified the charges against Chaudhry. Media reports refer to allegations that he used his position to help his son get a public sector job.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.