Pakistani police fired tear gas Monday at scores of demonstrating lawyers who were demanding that President Pervez Musharraf reinstate the deposed supreme court chief justice.
Helmeted police in riot gear fired several tear gas canisters at about 200 lawyers and other demonstrators, who were shouting slogans outside the residence of ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. He has been under house arrest along with his family since Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Nov. 3.
The lawyers had gathered outside Chaudhry's house after hearing unconfirmed television reports that the government had lifted the house-arrest restrictions on his wife and three children. The lawyers became agitated when it became apparent that the reports were apparently incorrect.
"Free the children, Go Musharraf Go!" shouted the lawyers, who also demanded that police allow them to go inside the house, which is surrounded by barbed wire.
Earlier Monday, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, announced that lawyers will observe a "black flag week" beginning March 9 to mark the first anniversary of an attempt by Musharraf to fire Chaudhry. He said lawyers will pass out black flags to people and stage demonstrations.
Musharraf's initial attempt to fire Chaudhry failed, but he successfully dismissed him and dozens of other senior judges after declaring emergency on Nov. 3. The crackdown came just before the Supreme Court was to rule on the legitimacy of Musharraf's re-election in October by a parliament dominated by his supporters.
Several other Supreme Court judges and prominent anti-Musharraf lawyers, including Ahsan, were also put under house arrest. Ahsan was released on Sunday.
Images via AP. Above, lawyers are seen outside the home of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Left, Aitzaz Ahsan is seen in the center of a large group of supporters after being released.