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Lawyers rally against harassment of Pakistani judge’s kin


Islamabad : Hundreds of lawyers Monday boycotted court proceedings and held rallies in Pakistan's southwest province of Balochistan to condemn the alleged harassment of close relatives of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry by more than a dozen armed men during the weekend.

About 15 masked men forcibly entered the house of Chaudhry's nephew, advocate Amir Rana, Sunday and allegedly harassed his mother.

The attackers fled as Rana reportedly fired several shots in air through the window of the bathroom he was hiding in.

Crowds of lawyers held demonstration in provincial city of Quetta to condemn the attack. They also chanted slogans in support of Chaudhry, whose removal by President Pervez Musharraf in March has sparked a mass movement against the current regime.

Similar rallies were held in other cities and town of the province.

Rana claimed he had been under pressure from an intelligence agency since his uncle's suspension. "I have been told to convey to the chief justice that his actions were not in the interest of his family," the Dawn newspaper reported him saying.

Unidentified attackers fired a volley of shots at the house of Chaudhry's counsel in the port city of Karachi last month.

No one was injured in the incident, but a couple of days later more than 40 people were killed in armed clashes between the supporters of pro-Musharraf political parties and opposition activists, as Chaudhry visited the city on May 12.

The growing political turmoil has posed the biggest challenge to Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999. Tens of thousands took to the streets in several towns and villages Saturday as Chaudhry travelled from Islamabad to the industrial city of Faisalabad.

But the military ruler still enjoys the support of the military and US, which relies heavily on him for war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.