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Pakistan's Ousted Chief Justice Addresses Lawyers

  • Barry Newhouse

Pakistan's ousted Supreme Court chief justice has spoken publicly despite his continuing house arrest, addressing a group of lawyers through a mobile phone link. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that as opposition to Saturday's decree of emergency rule continues, Pakistani officials may have begun to consider a timetable for national elections.

Hundreds of lawyers gathered near Islamabad's district court Tuesday to continue their protest against the emergency decree.

Before the rally, the man who has become a symbol of opposition to President Pervez Musharraf urged lawyers to demand that the constitution be reinstated.

Through a mobile phone held up to a loudspeaker, Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhry said he and his fellow justices have ruled Mr. Musharraf's emergency decree unconstitutional.

He says he is urging civil servants and members of the military not to obey the emergency order.

There were conflicting reports Tuesday about whether and when the government plans to dissolve parliament and hold national elections. Officials confirmed cabinet ministers were meeting, and news reports said they would be discussing an election timetable.

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