Pakistan Military Sacks Top Judge over New Oath

Article excerpt

Pakistan's chief judge, who was to hear arguments on the validity of the army coup, was sacked yesterday, along with five other Supreme Court justices, when they refused to co-operate with the military government.

The dismissal coincided with the opening of former premier Nawaz Sharif's trial. The military accuses Sharif of kidnapping, attempted murder and terrorism.

Six of the Supreme Court's 13 judges refused an order by military chief Gen Pervez Musharraf to take a new oath under a provisional constitution drawn up by the military. The new oath effectively shields the military from legal challenges. The refusals were the biggest challenge to the military since it took power in Pakistan in an October 12 coup.

"Whatever has been done is in the best interest of the country and the nation," Gen Musharraf said following the swearing-in ceremony of the seven Supreme Court judges who took the oath.

The chief justice, Judge Saeeduzaman Siddiqi, was replaced by Judge Ershad Hassan Khan, said a court official. There were reports of several other judges in the country also refusing the order.

Judge Siddiqi said he would only "work under the constitution, not under the provisional constitution". …