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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistani Judge Decries Dictatorship

LAHORE, Pakistan -- Pakistan's suspended top judge made a thinly veiled attack on President Pervez Musharraf at a rally Sunday, telling thousands of supporters that the age of dictatorships is over.

"The dictatorial system of government and the concept of concentration of power is now ended," Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry told 10,000 lawyers and nearly as many opposition activists in the eastern city of Lahore. "All these are bitter lessons of history."

The remarks, apparently criticizing Musharraf, an army general, are Chaudhry's strongest since he was suspended on March 9 over alleged misuse of authority.

The suspension sparked a political crisis for the president, with critics accusing him of trying to tame the judiciary during an election year to avoid legal challenges to his continued military rule.

As the lawyers, some carrying black flags, chanted "Go Musharraf go" and raised clinched fists into the air, Chaudhry told the rally in the parking lot of the Lahore High Court:

"Nations that do not learn from history and repeat its mistakes, they have to face the consequences."

Chaudhry left the capital, Islamabad, in a motorcade Saturday morning for Lahore, but his journey was repeatedly delayed by rallies held by supporters along the way.

"Neither a political nor any judicial scene has ever witnessed such an event in Pakistan's history," said Ahsan Bhoon, president of the High Court Bar Association in Lahore. Thousands of lawyers had waited through the night to welcome the chief justice, he said.

Chaudhry, who became chief justice in 2005, has a reputation for challenging government misdeeds and human rights abuses in the country.