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ATTOCK, May 31: Deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has said that a conspiracy is being hatched to create divisions among lawyers to foil their struggle for the supremacy of judiciary and the rule of law.

He was addressing lawyers of the Attock District Bar Association here on Saturday on his way to Peshawar.

Justice Iftikhar urged the legal fraternity to maintain unity in their ranks and continue their unprecedented and historic struggle.

The caravan of the chief justice took about six hours to reach Attock from Islamabad, a distance normally covered in 90 minutes.

People from different walks of life, including lawyers, workers of different political parties and human rights organisations showered the caravan of the chief justice with rose petals and gave them a standing ovation.

Enthusiastic lawyers, political workers and people stayed inside and outside the bar premises despite humid and hot weather.

Justice Iftikhar thanked lawyers, doctors and people of Attock for looking after Munir. A. Malik during his detention in the Attock district jail after the proclamation of emergency.

Speaking on the occasion, former SCBA president Munir A. Malik, former vice-chairman Ali Ahmed Kurd, President of Attock District Bar Association Rana Afsar Ali Khan and Supreme Court of Pakistan Member Sheikh Ahsanuddin advocate said that legal community would not accept the ‘minus-one’ formula.

They asked lawmakers not to be afraid of the powers enjoyed by President Pervez Musharraf under the Article 58(2)b, adding that the legal fraternity would support them if the president exercised these powers.

ARRIVAL IN PESHAWAR: Justice Iftikhar arrived to a rousing welcome with thousands of lawyers, political activists and civil society workers receiving him at Khairabad Bridge, the entry point to the NWFP.

The lawyers and activists of political parties waited for the arrival of Justice Chaudhry in scorching heat for several hours at the Khairabad Bridge, where the chief justice arrived at around 7.20pm, five hours behind schedule.

As soon the chief justice’s cavalcade entered the limits of the NWFP, surroundings reverberated with vociferous slogans of ‘Go Musharraf Go’ and ‘Long Live Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.’

The motorcade crossed the bridge in about half an hour as the chief justice’s vehicle was moving with snail’s pace due to presence of the massive crowd. Last year, Justice Iftikhar had addressed a convention here on April 21 after his suspension and filing of a reference against him by the president.

People and lawyers lined up at the GT Road in Jehangira, Shaidu, Akora Khattak, Nowshera, etc. However, because of security concerns, the chief justice skipped his stay at the Nowshera District Courts and his convoy moved forward to Peshawar.

NWFP police adopted extra-ordinary security arrangements and no vehicle except that of Justice Iftikhar was permitted to enter the premises of the high court.

The Sher Shah Suri Road, where the PHC building is situated, was closed for all vehicular traffic. Thousands of policemen were deputed at key points from Khairabad Bridge to Peshawar especially at the venue of the convention. Scanners and other electronic gadgets were installed at different points of the convention.

Members of his cavalcade went to the high court, the venue of the lawyers’ convention, whereas the chief justice was taken to the residence of deposed Chief Justice of PHC Tariq Pervez Khan situated in close vicinity of the court.

Supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-N, Tehrik-i-Insaaf and Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party set up camps at different points in Peshawar and adjoining Nowshera district. A large number of civil society groups including academicians, doctors and NGO workers were also present at the Khairabad Bridge and Peshawar High Court to welcome the deposed chief justice.

Activists of Pakistan People’s Party and Awami National Party did not join the welcome ceremony.

The cavalcade of Justice Chaudhry was received with the beat of the drums and traditional Khattak dance by the Pukhtoon lawyers and Ludi dance by lawyers from Punjab including Mandi Bahauddin, Attock, Chakwal, Rawalpindi, etc.

The jubilant lawyers showered the black limousine of justice Iftikhar with rose petals.