05/03/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Church praying for a just solution in arrested chief justice case

by Qaiser Felix
Bishops’ Conference Chairman, Mgr Lawrence John Saldanha, tells AsiaNews that the case of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, arrested on March 9 by order of President Musharraf, is becoming increasingly political.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – “We pray and hope for a just solution to the chief justice issue but can see more and more politics involved now,” Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha told AsiaNews. He was referring to the growing protests that have followed the sacking of Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by President Musharraf on March 9. Mr Chaudhry is seen by many an opponent to the current president.

“It is a very unfortunate situation,” the prelate said, “and should be resolved fairly and as soon as possible because it is not a good thing for the nation”.

However, the first three days of May have been characterised by various popular protests in Islamabad where hundreds of Pakistanis have come together to voice their support for the justice.

According to the Pakistani president, Justice Chaudhry acted improperly in his function as chief justice of the Supreme Court. But for many international observers, not only is there no evidence against the magistrate, but the way he was removed from office must be condemned because it violates the principle of division of powers.

Khalil Tahir, who chairs the Catholic association Adal Trust and is a member of the Christian Lawyers Association of Pakistan, told AsiaNews that “all Christian lawyers support Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry along with the entire lawyers’ community of Pakistan. We condemn the president’s bad faith.

The association as well as opposition political parties and other lawyers’ groups have demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court every time a trial session was underway.

Similar demonstrations have taken place across the country and organisers have promised they will continue for as long as the trial is on.

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