ISLAMABAD, Nov 6: Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry urged the nation on Tuesday to rise up for the restoration of the Constitution. He dismissed the proclamation of emergency as illegal.

“The Constitution has been ripped to shreds,” he said while addressing a rally of lawyers by telephone from his besieged residence where he has been detained.

The lawyers were protesting against the imposition of emergency and removal of the chief justice and several other judges of the superior judiciary through the Provisional Constitutional Order.

Justice Iftikhar asked the lawyers to spread his message to the people all over the country: “The time has come for sacrifice and for rising up for the supremacy of the Constitution”.

He declared that he was determined to launch another phase of struggle for the independence of judiciary, rule of law and the Constitution.

He said he would speak to the legal fraternity once restrictions on his movement were relaxed. “I am under arrest now, but soon I will join you in your struggle,” he said.

Justice Iftikhar said he was confident the day would come when the country would see the supremacy of the Constitution and that there would be no dictatorship.

He described as unfounded President General Pervez Musharraf’s allegation that the judiciary was going soft on terrorists. He pointed out that the court had provided relief to the people and restored their faith in the judicial system.

Before Justice Iftikhar could complete his address, the line that he was speaking over was cut and mobile phones in some parts of Islamabad went dead.

Hundreds of lawyers protested inside the city court complex after listening to Justice Iftikhar. They made no attempt to break through the police cordon deployed to prevent them from holding street protests.

The lawyers condemned the imposition of emergency which they said was an attempt by General Musharraf to prolong his rule. After chanting anti-Musharraf slogans for about half an hour, the demonstrators dispersed peacefully.

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