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Protesters Rally in Pakistan to Support Suspended Chief Justice, Media Freedoms


Demonstrators rallied in several Pakistani cities Thursday to denounce the suspension of the country's chief justice and recent curbs on the media.

About 5,000 protesters gathered Thursday in the eastern city of Lahore, chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf. A smaller group of journalists and opposition activists rallied in Islamabad against constraints on the media, despite a ban on protests in the capital.

Earlier this week, General Musharraf signed an emergency decree tightening regulations on the media. The government says it has already suspended that measure.

In the days leading up to the rallies, spokespeople for two opposition parties, the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League, said hundreds of their workers had been detained. The government said about 300 people have been taken into custody.

General Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in March, accusing him of official misconduct. Chaudhry argues his removal from the bench was unconstitutional.

Broadcasters say the government is silencing them for their extensive coverage of protests against the suspension of Chaudhry. The government has denied blocking the broadcasters.

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