Musharraf portraits burned
 
Witnesses said around 3,000 protesters dismantled barriers in an attempt to stage a sit-in on a main road outside the Lahore High Court building.

 

In Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, some 500 lawyers wearing black armbands rallied outside the city courts.

They blocked traffic and burned portraits of Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, before dispersing peacefully.

Advocates did not attend the Supreme Court in Islamabad while lawyers also boycotted courts in towns across central Punjab province.

"Today, the entire lawyer community is out protesting and giving a unanimous message that we're against President Musharraf's action, we condemn it," Syed Zulfiqar Ali Bokhari, the secretary of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, said.

   

He said protests would continue until the government reviewed its decision.

 

Sacking condemned


Rights groups, opposition parties and lawyers have condemned the move by Musharraf as an assault on the independence of the judiciary.
  
Musharraf says Chaudhry was abusing his position and has referred the case to the Supreme Judicial Council, Pakistan's top judicial accountability body.

 

It will take up the case on Tuesday.

 

The government has not released details of the allegations against Chaudhary, but lawyers and legal analysts said the action against him might be related to his efforts to account for people who have disappeared after being taken into custody.

   

Human rights groups have criticised the disappearance of at least 400 people since Pakistan joined the US-led war on terrorism in 2001. 

 

Afghan delegation 

 

At the same time, Afghan-Pakistani talks began in Islamabad on the makeup of traditional tribal councils that the two countries plan to convene to help fight militants along rugged parts of their common border.

 

The two-day meeting on convening the proposed jirgas, traditional gatherings of tribal elders, took place at the Ministry of Interior.

 

On the first day, Afghan and Pakistani delegates will hold preparatory discussions and set the meeting's agenda, an official said.

 

Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are widely believed to be hiding along the border, parts of which are rugged, porous and ill-defined.

 

Afghan officials have repeatedly said Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistani territory, a charge Pakistan denies.