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Demonstrators Protest Against President in Several Pakistani Cities 

Thousands of lawyers and opposition activists rallied in several Pakistani cities Thursday in fresh protests against the suspension of the nation's chief justice.

The largest of the rallies was held in the eastern city of Lahore, where 3,000 people chanted for President Pervez Musharraf to resign.

Smaller protests were held in Peshawar and Karachi.

General Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry three months ago, accusing him of official misconduct. Chaudhry denies the charge, arguing that his removal was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court ruled this week it would formally begin hearing Chaudhry's petition.

The suspension has sparked outrage among Pakistan's legal community and opposition parties. It also triggered a series of nationwide protests and a widespread backlash against General Musharraf.

On Wednesday, Chaudhry's lawyers told the Supreme Court that security agents manhandled their client days after the president suspended him.

The lawyers accused security agents of forcing Chaudhry into a car, pulling his hair and treating him roughly. Chaudhry's legal team said the incident occurred when Chaudhry attempted to walk from his residence to the Supreme Court on March 13.

News photographers captured images of the security agents handling Chaudhry.

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