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Karachi tense, judge refuses to hear CJ case
May 14, 2007 12:08 IST
The Pakistan Supreme Court's hearing into charges of misconduct against suspended chief justice Iftikar M Chaudhry got off to a rocky start on Monday with one of the senior judges quitting the 14-member full bench.
Senior judge Falak Sher said it was not appropriate for him to continue in the bench as he had in the past challenged Chaudhry superseding him to the post.
Despite pleas from Chaudhry's defence counsel that they have absolute confidence in him, Sher refused to budge.
Justice Khalil-u-Rehman Ramday then referred the issue to Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas for a decision.
Hours before the hearing was to start, additional registrar of the Supreme Court Hamad Raza was killed apparently when dacoits raided his house in the city in the early hours.
Police said Raza was killed when he tried to resist the dacoits who had raided his house.
Sher's decision to quit the panel came even as lawyers boycotted courts all over Pakistan to protest the government's move to stop the suspended judge from addressing a lawyer's convention in Karachi.
Pakistan's commercial hub braced itself for another tense day as an opposition sponsored strike got underway leading the provincial Sindh government to impose prohibitory and shoot at sight orders to stem a wave of violence that has left more than 40 dead.
The provincial government has imposed the ban for a month to avoid more bloodshed and violence after two days of violence and clashes between rival political groups left around 41 people dead and more than 150 injured, the adviser to the Sindh government on Home Affairs Waseem Akhtar said.
Opposition parties under the banner of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy are holding the strike to protest the violence that started on Saturday and are demanding the resignation of the government.
They have accused the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement, a coalition partner in the Musharraf government, of engineering the violence which left 34 dead on Saturday and another seven on Sunday when the clashes also took on an ethnic colour with most of them occurring in areas dominated by the Pathans.
Akhtar said paramilitary troops have been ordered to shoot rioters on sight and an extra 3,000 soldiers have been brought into the southern port city, bringing the total to
"The rangers have orders to shoot on sight rioters and help the administration maintain law and order in the city," the Sindh Home secretary, Gholam Mohtaram said.
The government has declared a public holiday on Monday with all educational institutions closed and annual examinations postponed till further notice.
Political analysts and opposition parties fear that the violence that has rocked the city was a throwback to the late 80s and 90s when ethnic and sectarian clashes were common and left hundreds dead.