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Shoot-on-sight orders issued to end riots

Story Highlights

NEW: 42 dead in Karachi clashes
NEW: Opposition parties calling for country-wide strike on Monday
• Fighting erupted between pro-government and opposition groups on Saturday
• Unrest prompted by visit of former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's government on Sunday gave its paramilitary forces authority to shoot on sight in an effort to quell political clashes in the southern port city of Karachi that have killed 42 people in the past two days.

The clashes are between supporters of the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and those opposed to his decision to suspend the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Clashes on Sunday left five dead and some 58 others injured, police and intelligence sources said.

In addition to waging gunbattles during the protests, angry mobs burned vehicles and set fire to stores, many of them owned by opposition supporters, the sources said. Police used tear gas and batons in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

Musharraf removed Chaudhry from his post on March 9, accusing him of misusing his powers. The dismissal sparked widespread but largely peaceful demonstrations by some Pakistani attorneys and others who believed Musharraf abused his authority in suspending Pakistan's top judge.

Opposition parties call for strike

Opposition parties -- who are opposed to Chaudhry's dismissal --are calling for a country-wide strike on Monday to protest the Karachi violence. The strike would shut down all major shopping areas and markets in Pakistan's major cities.

Chaudhry had been scheduled to address a bar association meeting in Karachi on Saturday but was forced to turn back to Islamabad from the airport because of the upheaval.

All of Pakistan's civil and higher courts remain closed across Pakistan because of an ongoing boycott by the country's lawyers.

Chaudhry's case will be heard before the Supreme Court on Monday, after the judicial panel that had been overseeing Chaudhry's case was deemed biased against the embattled judge.

The Supreme Court has put tight restrictions on Pakistan's media in reporting about the case, warning that coverage, discussion and analysis that impede legal procedures will be treated as contempt of court. Journalists' organizations have launched a protest against what they say is a ban on fair reporting.

Saturday's riots kill dozens

On Saturday, at least 36 people were killed in clashes in Karachi. Unknown gunmen shot and killed six political workers of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League. Police said the gunmen opened fire on workers who were putting up posters to welcome Chaudhry.

More than 15,000 police officers were deployed in Karachi along with paramilitary troops to help sustain the peace, according to police. However, they were not been able to control the situation, police said.

More than 800 pro-Chaudhry labor and student organization members were arrested prior to Chaudhry's arrival.

Musharraf accused Chaudhry of misusing his powers. Chaudhry subsequently was placed under house arrest, a move that outraged many Pakistanis as well as attorneys who have boycotted the courts. It has since been rescinded.

Pakistan's Supreme Court bar and many legal experts have said Musharraf does not have the constitutional power to remove the chief justice from the bench. So far, 14 superior and civil court judges and two deputy attorney generals have resigned over the matter.

Chaudhry was appointed to the court by Musharraf in 2005, but he recently started exercising independence from the government in a number of cases involving the disappearance of terror suspects and human rights activists.

The United States has tiptoed around the matter, partly because Musharraf is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

Musharraf's critics accused him of removing Chaudhry in an effort to intimidate the judiciary ahead of crucial elections and a vote in parliament to extend his rule later this year.

At a public rally in Islamabad on Saturday, Musharraf condemned "people who are talking about justice, but creating chaos that is not justice."

He said the Karachi incident occurred because the judicial dispute "was given a political flavor."

Musharraf said he would respect the decision of the Supreme Court over Chaudhry.

"My heart is crying to see people dying, being martyred, destroying properties, destroying TV stations," he told the rally.

"If you think you are gaining freedom for the judiciary, then you are wrong. This is no way to gain freedom for the judiciary. Don't get into politics and let (the) judiciary do justice. This is the only way."

CNN's Syed Mohsin Naqvi contributed to this report.

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