Top Pakistani judges quit as Zia makes power play

Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, has taken sweeping steps to strengthen his government and crush political opposition, prompting the country's chief justice and eight other high judges to quit. General Zia issued a decree effectively outlawing the Pakistan People's Party of former Premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the main threat to the government, and most other opposition parties, and severely restricting the powers of civilian courts and the rights of lawyers.

The decree issued by General Zia gave the President power to amend the constitution at will. Chief Justice Anwar ul-Haq and at least eight other judges refused to take a new oath of office required by the decree and were automatically dismi ssed.

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