Macleans Canada Reports: Police using tear gas and water cannons clashed today with hundreds of lawyers to block them from reaching the barricaded house of Pakistan’s deposed chief justice. About 1,500 black-suited lawyers marched on the residence of Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, the detained top judge of the Supreme Court, who was fired by President Pervez Musharraf three months ago. After the lawyers tried to breach the barbed-wire barricade, hundreds of police drove them back by firing tear gas and shooting water cannons from a fire truck.
Some of the lawyers threw stones at police. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries in the clash in the capital, Islamabad.
Earlier Saturday, Pakistan’s Bar Council announced a nationwide lawyers’ boycott of courts until Feb. 18 elections – part of a campaign to pressure the government to restore deposed top judges. Athar Minallah, a prominent Supreme Court lawyer, said the decision was made at a council convention in Islamabad before they marched on Chaudhry’s house. Musharraf axed the chief justice and 60 other top judges after Musharraf declared emergency rule on Nov. 3, before the Supreme Court had been set to rule on the legality of the U.S.-backed leader’s re-election as president.
Although Musharraf lifted the emergency in mid-December, Chaudhry, his wife and children have remained under house detention, and authorities have blocked repeated efforts by sympathetic lawyers and opposition activists to visit him.