Ousted Pak CJ urges anti-Musharraf uprising

Islamabad, November 6:

Pakistan’s deposed chief justice urged people to “rise up” against President Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule today.

Sacked top judge Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry called on his countrymen to save the constitution, prompting authorities to sever mobile phone coverage in parts of Islamabad as he addressed a meeting of lawyers by telephone. “I want lawyers to spread my message to the people of Pakistan,” he said to cheers from supporters before all lines went dead. “The time for sacrifice has come, to rise up for the supremacy of the constitution.”

Pakistan’s cabinet met later to discuss the timetable for elections but made no decisions, amid reports of a split in the government about whether to hold them on schedule in early 2008. “So far no date has been set for elections,” Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani told AFP after the meeting. “Emergency will be for the shortest possible period of time and elections will be held as soon as possible.” Durrani said the timing depended on “legal issues” such as resolving a pending Supreme Court ruling on the legality of Musharraf’s victory in an October 6 presidential election.

Chaudhry, one of nine judges sacked for refusing to endorse the emergency order and now under effective house arrest, said Musharraf’s “junta” had cracked down because it was scared the verdict would go against him.

Opposition leader and former PM Benazir Bhutto meanwhile flew to Islamabad for talks with political allies and said she had no plans to meet with the nuclear-armed nation’s military ruler.