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Pakistani Lawyers Protest March Arrives in Islamabad


Thousands of Pakistani lawyers and activists - demanding the reinstatement of judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf - have descended on the country's capital.

The protesters' so-called "long march" culminated in Islamabad Friday with a sit-in outside Pakistan's parliament building. The procession of vehicles started in Karachi earlier this week and traveled across the country, stopping in the cities of Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Lawyers decided to hold the mass protest after the coalition government failed to meet a self-imposed May 12 deadline to restore the judiciary.

Although lawyers have vowed a peaceful protest, Pakistani authorities have deployed hundreds of police and placed barbed wire and security cameras around key buildings in the capital to discourage violent protests.

The two main groups in Pakistan's ruling coalition - the Muslim League-Nawaz party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People's Party led by Asif Ali Zardari - remain deadlocked on how to restore the judges.

Mr. Sharif wants an unconditional reinstatement, while Zardari wants to link reinstatement to constitutional amendments.

President Musharraf declared a state of emergency in November and fired judges who questioned the legitimacy of his re-election as president while also serving as Pakistan's top military officer.

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

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