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ISLAMABAD, May 13: Lawyers on the panel defending Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry have alleged that Saturday’s incidents in Karachi were part of a conspiracy hatched by the government to foil the lawyers’ movement for independence of the judiciary.

They called upon Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas to take suo motu notice of the killings and violence in Karachi. Addressing a press conference at the Supreme Court building here on Sunday, they held the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Sindh government and the centre responsible for the events in Karachi.

Aitzaz Ahsan said the lawyers accompanying the chief justice remained stranded at the Karachi airport for the whole day on Saturday waiting for permission to go to the Sindh High Court Bar. He said they were mistreated and asked to leave the city in the evening.

He said they were fighting a legal battle for independence and supremacy of the judiciary and neither the lawyers nor the chief justice had any political designs. Had there been any such motive, he said, it would have been exposed during the Lahore and Peshawar conventions of lawyers.

Mr Ahsan alleged that what happened in Karachi on Saturday had been planned in advance by the government and the MQM was used to carry out the plan.

He regretted that while bodies were lying on roads and streets in Karachi, Gen Pervez Musharraf and others were celebrating victory and dancing at the Islamabad rally. He alleged that at the Karachi airport, the chief justice was subjected to violence and attempts were made to kidnap him. He also alleged that police and agencies, instead of trying to control the situation, were supervising the MQM’s killing spree.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Munir A. Malik said that despite assurances given by the governor and the Sindh High Court’s directives to provide protection to lawyers for holding their convention, they were harassed and not allowed to leave the airport.

“While violent clashes were raging and bodies were lying on roads, the IG police and the home secretary were keeping a watch on the chief justice in the airport lounge,” he said.

Former vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council Ali Ahmad Kurd said the events in Karachi would not damage the lawyers’ movement, but rather strengthen it. He said the struggle would continue till the objectives were achieved.

Justice Tariq Mehmood said they were not against any person and their movement was for independence of the judiciary. He said the army was supposed to defend the country’s borders and it should not interfere in affairs of judiciary and in politics.