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Pakistan tries to derail popular cross-country protest

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From there, the protesters are set to reach the capital, Islamabad, Monday, where they have pledged to stage a sit-in outside the National Assembly until their demands are met.

Fight to restore judges

The lawyers' chief goal is to restore the remaining handful of 60 judges deposed by former President and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf but not yet reinstated. In the lawyers' view these judges are independent-minded and therefore crucial to rule of law.

Key among these judges is Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the popular former chief justice who rose to national acclaim in March 2007 for presiding over cases that irked the government. These include an investigation into "missing people" who had allegedly been kidnapped by Pakistan's intelligence agencies in connection with the US-led "war on terror."

Mr. Chaudhry's suspension sparked protests across the country, principally among the middle class, lawyers, and students. Though he was reinstated in July 2007, upon the orders of the Supreme Court, he and the other judges were deposed once again when Mr. Musharraf declared a state of emergency in November of that year.

Since the election of a democratic government in February 2008, the ruling PPP has signed three separate accords with other parties to restore the judiciary to its status before Musharraf's six-week state of emergency, but has yet to do so.

Though the majority of the 60 judges have taken fresh oaths, Zardari is thought to be unwilling to restore Chaudhry for fear that the former chief justice will reopen corruption cases that have surrounded Zardari since the 1990s.

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