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Thousands Rally for Suspended Chief Justice in Pakistan

Thousands of lawyers and opposition activists rallied Thursday in support of Pakistan's suspended chief justice, keeping up the political pressure on President Pervez Musharraf.

Protesters in the eastern city of Lahore called on the president to resign for pulling Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry from the bench in March on charges of misconduct. A U.S. flag was burned to protest American support for Mr. Musharraf.

Critics accuse the president of meddling with the independence of Pakistan's judiciary to smooth his bid to retain the dual posts of president and army chief of staff.

Protests have been held in Pakistan's biggest cities since the suspension, growing into the strongest public challenge to the presidency since Mr. Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup eight years ago.

Pakistan's Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition by Chaudhry contesting his suspension on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.