KARACHI (AFP) — Thousands of lawyers and workers chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday greeted Pakistan’s deposed chief justice on his arrival in Karachi, police and witnesses said.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was among dozens of judges fired by Musharraf in November under emergency rule.
It was Chaudhry’s first visit to Karachi since a lawyers movement began in March last year pushing for the judges to be restored. He will meet lawyers and address a gathering there at a hotel later Tuesday.
More than 5,000 supporters welcomed Chaudhry, said police officer Mohammad Nauman.
“More than 1,000 policemen were deployed to man security in the city today,” senior police officer Babar Khattak, told AFP, adding that the forces included paramilitary rangers.
Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 while he was army chief, ousted Chaudhry in March 2007, sparking large and often violent protests by lawyers.
The Supreme Court later quashed Chaudhry’s suspension. But Musharraf struck back in November, imposing a state of emergency and finally deposing the judge and other senior colleagues.
New prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani freed Chaudhry from house arrest in March, a month after defeating Musharraf’s allies in elections, but the coalition government has been unable to agree on how to restore the judges.
Chaudhry tried to visit Karachi in May 2007, but fierce clashes erupted between Musharraf’s supporters and opponents, leaving more than 40 people dead.
Chaudhry was forced return to Islamabad.