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Pakistan Dismisses Senior Judges Who Opposed Emergency Rule


Pakistan's government has formally dismissed more than 20 senior judges who refused to accept President Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule.

The Pakistani law ministry issued notices Tuesday dismissing 24 high court judges and three Supreme Court judges, including former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The judges had declined to take a new oath of allegiance after Mr. Musharraf imposed the state of emergency on November 3.

Mr. Musharraf has said judicial interference with the government was one factor behind his declaration of emergency rule. He has promised to lift emergency rule on December 16.

Critics of Mr. Musharraf accuse him of using emergency powers to purge the judiciary of judges who may have overturned his victory in October's presidential election.

In another development, aides of former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif met Tuesday to draw up a list of conditions for taking part in parliamentary elections called by President Musharraf for January 8.

Ms. Bhutto's party said one of its key demands is the formation of an independent election commission to make sure votes are not rigged in Mr. Musharraf's favor. Mr. Sharif called for the reinstatement of Supreme Court judges fired under emergency rule.

Also Tuesday, Pakistani authorities in Lahore arrested and released two U.S. activists from the feminist antiwar group Code Pink who were in the country to protest emergency rule and restrictions on the media. The two were ordered to leave the country Wednesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.
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