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Pakistani Lawyers'  Protest Culminates in Islamabad

Tens of thousands of Pakistani lawyers and activists descended on Islamabad Friday, demanding the reinstatement of judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf.

The protesters' so-called "long march" began in Karachi earlier this week with a procession of vehicles traveling across the country. It culminated in the capital Friday, ending well past midnight, following a sit-in outside Pakistan's parliament building.

Former prime minister and head of the Muslim League-Nawaz party, Nawaz Sharif told the crowd that President Musharraf would be held accountable for removing the judges. The protesters responded with cheers and chants of, "hang Musharraf."

Pakistani authorities deployed hundreds of police and placed barbed wire and security cameras around key buildings in the capital to discourage violent protests.

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

The two main groups in Pakistan's ruling coalition - Mr. Sharif's party 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 purged the Supreme Court, in order to halt any legal challenges to his presidency.

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