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Pakistan judge gets court boost, faces new charges

PAKISTAN: Pakistan’s top judge won the first round of his legal battle with President Pervez Musharraf Monday, but the government hit back by threatening new misconduct charges against him.

The Supreme Court formally allowed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to contest his suspension by military ruler Musharraf on March 9 — a challenge that government lawyers have argued against strenuously.

Chaudhry has fought his ouster both in the courts and also in the streets, leading rallies and sparking an opposition movement that presents key US ally Musharraf with the biggest crisis of his eight years in power.

The Supreme Court in May suspended an inquiry by a panel of judges into the charges against the chief justice, after he alleged that it was biased and that he should not be suspended during the process. The court has been listening to legal arguments for the past month about whether to admit some two dozen petitions including Chaudhry’s. The others have been filed by lawyers.

“We will right now only hear and decide the petition of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,” presiding judge Khalilur Rehman Ramday said.

“In a sense it is a victory for us that they have started hearing the petition. We were 99.9 percent sure that they would not reject it,” Tariq Mahmood, senior counsel for the chief justice, told AFP.

Law Minister Wasi Zafar however said that the government would file a second set of allegations against Chaudhry, because the judge’s lawyers had politicised the issue instead of going through the courts.

The minister said in a statement the new charges would include “acts and events” after March 9.

Islamabad, Tuesday, AFP

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