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Deposed Top Judge in Pakistan Urges Resistance


Protests continue in Pakistan against President Pervez Musharraf's state of emergency. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday and Pakistan's deposed chief justice urged lawyers to demand that the constitution be reinstated. VOA's Leta Hong Fincher has more.

Lawyers and Pakistani officials say authorities have arrested more than 1,500 people since President Musharraf imposed emergency rule late Saturday. In the central city Multan, hundreds of lawyers clashed with police on Tuesday.

"Police started the aggression and they tried to use violent force as they were guided by their seniors and we are very peaceful," said Syed Kanjom, a lawyer in Multan.

The ousted chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, called on supporters to rise up and restore the constitution. "I request the community of lawyers to go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice. Don't be afraid," he said.

Chaudhry has been under house arrest since General Musharraf fired him Saturday.

Benazir Bhutto arrived in Islamabad to meet with opposition party leaders. She said she will not negotiate with General Musharraf and urged him to hold parliamentary elections in January as originally planned. "The talks are off because we were talking for a restoration towards democracy. And to my great surprise and shock instead of going towards democracy we ended up with martial law. So I feel it was a breach of faith," she said.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the Bush administration is reviewing possible cuts in U.S. aid to Pakistan. But she also said Pakistan remains an ally in the war on terrorism. "We have a lot of cooperative interests. We have a broad relationship and we cannot lose sight of the fact that we have very serious counterterrorism operations that are currently underway in Pakistan as well," she said.

Some analysts warn that General Musharraf's actions are hurting Pakistan's moderates more than militant extremists.

"The people who are being controlled at this point are the natural allies of enlightened moderation, the lawyers, the civil society activists. So far he [General Musharraf] has not gone after Benazir Bhutto's PPP [Pakistan People's Party] and there's a big question about how they will play their cards. But certainly the action he has taken will tend to drive both parts of his opposition into each other's arms as long as he is there," said Teresita Schaffer, head of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

General Musharraf's cabinet met Tuesday to discuss a timetable for parliamentary elections, but officials say no decision has been made on whether elections will be delayed.

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