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Pakistan's Musharraf Dismisses Legal, Political Criticism During Public Address


Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has dismissed opposition protests over the suspension of the country's top judge, saying his critics are trying to politicize a constitutional and judicial issue.

Thousands of people across Pakistan protested Monday against the removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry earlier this month on allegations of abusing authority. Lawyers and opposition parties say General Musharraf is trying to interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

He insists there is little public support for the protests.

During a speech Tuesday in Rawalpindi, the Pakistani leader also denied the government has been involved in the disappearance of hundreds of people since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led war on terrorism in 2001.

Human rights groups say the government has detained hundreds of people in secret, accusing them of links to extremist groups.

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