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Pakistan puts top anti-govt lawyer back in detention PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 February 2008

Agence France-Presse . Lahore

A leading anti-government lawyer in Pakistan was detained again Saturday just two days after he had completed 90 days under house arrest, officials said.

The action against Aitzaz Ahsan, president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court bar association, followed his tough statements in which he called for the president, Pervez Musharraf, to step down.

Ahsan was first jailed and then kept under house arrest after Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3. That sentence was up on Thursday but the former minister was served with a fresh detention order for 30 days. However, that was withdrawn at the last minute and he was freed.

He spoke to lawyers on Friday and again addressed them on Saturday in the eastern city of Lahore, calling for Musharraf’s resignation. But after Saturday’s address to hundreds of lawyers Ahsan was served with a new 30-day detention order by the police as he tried to board a plane to the southern province of Sindh, home ministry officials said.

Ahsan said he wanted to go to the native town of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto to offer prayers at her grave in Nau Dero. He was also to meet and offer condolences to Benazir’s widower Asif Ali Zardari, who is now co-chairman of her Pakistan Peoples Party, of which Ahsan is a member.

Ahsan said the Sindh government had also banned his entry to the region for a month and condemned the action as violation of his fundamental rights. He was the chief lawyer for the country’s former chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Musharraf suspended Chaudhry from his post on misconduct charges in March, setting off months of political turmoil that saw judges and lawyers take to the streets in protest.

The Supreme Court ordered Chaudhry’s reinstatement after a legal campaign led by Ahsan. However Chaudhry was later sacked and put under house arrest amid November’s emergency rule.

Opponents accuse Musharraf of sacking Chaudhry to head off a Supreme Court verdict that appeared likely to overturn his victory in a presidential election in October.

Ahsan served as interior minister in the late Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure as Pakistani prime minister from 1988 to 1990.

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