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Sparks (And Fists) Fly When Lawyers, Musharraf Supporters Meet

  • Abubakar Siddique

A supporter of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf kicks an anti-Musharraf lawyer outside a court in Rawalpindi on April 23.

A supporter of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf kicks an anti-Musharraf lawyer outside a court in Rawalpindi on April 23.

While Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has been battling numerous court cases, some of the most interesting battles have been happening outside the courtroom.

Swarms of lawyers attired in their customary black suits and ties have clashed with Musharraf's supporters every time they showed up to cheer their leader.

The brawls have sent many members of Musharraf's All-Pakistan Muslim League Party and lawyers to the hospital.

The fisticuffs have generated more business for the lawyers in the form of new police complaints that will eventually turn into court cases.

The spate of scuffles began in the southern seaport city of Karachi when a lawyer threw a shoe at Musharraf in a provincial court late last month:



Soon afterwards, the court complex turned into something of a wrestling arena when Musharraf supporters and lawyers engaged in some freestyle fighting.

The battleground relocated to Islamabad after the former strongman moved to his sprawling farmhouse on the edge of the city.

In the first few rounds of fighting, Musharraf's supporters were outnumbered and consequently beaten by the lawyers.

But on April 23, Musharraf's supporters took their revenge by showing up in large numbers outside a courthouse in Rawalpindi, a city next to Islamabad.

Armed with clubs, sticks, and stones, they forced the lawyers to retreat:



The lawyers, however, have vowed revenge as more street wars loom ahead.

Musharraf's numerous court cases will offer ample opportunities for the two sides to settle scores.

He is currently under a two-week house arrest in a case related to the detention of senior judges after he imposed emergency rule in November 2007. Musharraf's animosity with the lawyers began when he sacked the country's popular chief justice in March of that year.

In subsequent months, most lawyers in the country united in a noisy protest movement and hundreds endured harsh persecution.

Now, Musharraf faces various court cases related to his time in office.

In one, he is accused of failing to protect former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007. In another, he faces charges over his alleged role in the deaths of civilians in a military raid on the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007. His government believed the mosque to be a center for pro-Taliban extremists.

And another court case in the southwestern Balochistan Province is looking into his alleged role concerning the 2006 killing of a senior politician in the restive region.

At the top of the 69-year-old retired general's troubles is a petition in the Supreme Court. Several plaintiffs are aiming for a court ruling that will eventually result in trying Musharraf for treason in relation to violating the constitution, dismissing and detaining senior judges, and imposing emergency rule in November 2007.
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