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Support battle b/w pro-Musharraf, pro-judge supporters kills over 32, 150 wounded

ISLAMABAD, May 12 (KUNA) -- Bloody support battle between the supporters of President General Pervez Musharraf and sacked Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chauhdary Saturday ended with the death of over 32 persons, forceful return of the CJ from Southern Karachi port city to the capital and governments slight admission that it will loose the legal battle.
After being detained in the airport for nine hours since their arrival in Karachi, the CJ and his team of lawyers were flown back to Islamabad where ruling party Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) held a huge United Pakistan rally to express support and solidarity to President Musharraf leadership and policies.
President Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, several federal ministers, lawmakers and Chief Ministers of two provinces addressed the rally.
Federal Railway Minister, Sheikh Rashid, cautiously admitted that the government will loose legal battle with the CJ. What more could happen, he said while referring to the Presidential reference filed by Musharraf against CJ, The reference will rule against us. So what? We will contest elections and win.
The, otherwise adamant, CJ took the decision to return without addressing the rally after the Sindh government requested the Federal government to ask the CJ to return and deploy army to control the situation.
An emergency meeting, chaired by President Musharraf, was immediately called on here and took the decision to deploy Rangers in Karachi.
CJ Iftikhar flew to Karachi Saturday morning to address a gathering of thousands of lawyers amid government coalition party Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had also organized a rally in support of Musharraf policies.
Clashes erupted between rival political parties supporters ahead of rallies. Federal Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, told KUNA that clashes killed 21 people and wounded more than 72 others.
However, police sources said more than 32 persons including a policeman were killed and over 150 including 20 policemen and lawyers were wounded. Sources feared increase in the death toll.
Angry political workers, set on fire dozens of cars, buses and motorcycles, said a local journalist, Aslam Agha. He said two petrol pumps were also destroyed and window glasses of several buildings shattered.
He termed it one of the worst political violence incidents in the history of Karachi, which is already bleeding with sectarian violence.
Federal Minister Aftab blaming the CJ for tense situation in Karachi said that a purely constitutional matter has been politicized.
The Saturdays three rallies badly hit transportation system throughout Punjab province and Karachi and Islamabad cities. Railway and air services were also disrupted.
Pakistan has been plunged into political and judicial crisis since President Musharraf sacked CJ Iftikhar for misconduct and misuse of power. It is largely believed President Musharraf sort out personal grudges and saw him as an obstacle in his reelection in uniform. (pick up previous) amn.tg KUNA 121940 May 07NNNN