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ABA President Calls for Reinstatement of Pakistan Judges

Posted Mar 26, 2008 2:35 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Momentum appears to be growing for the potential reinstatement of dozens of Pakistan appellate judges who were removed from office last year by the country's president as part of an emergency suspension of the constitution.

The judges' release from house arrest Monday, as the first act of the country's newly appointed prime minister, was quickly followed by calls for their return to office. Among those seeking their reinstatement is ABA President William H. Neukom, who says in a written statement that Pakistan's constitution, suspended on Nov. 3, 2007 by the country's president, Pervez Musharraf, must be fully restored.

"This week's release of all detained justices and judges in Pakistan is a tremendous victory for the rule of law, and a hopeful first step in reversing the damaging effects of President Musharraf's November 3, 2007, state of emergency. The next step is to reinstate those justices and judges to their constitutional positions in their respective courts," Neukom says, praising the role of Pakistan's lawyers in achieving the current situation as an inspiring example to other lawyers and citizens throughout the world.

"The ABA will continue to press for full restoration of the rule of law in Pakistan," Neukom continues, "and stands ready to assist Pakistan in nurturing a fully professional and independent bar and judiciary."

In a significant sign of how far the effort has progressed, Musharraf himself has said he won't oppose the restoration to office of the judges he deposed, notes the Times of India in an editorial today.

However, that apparent acquiescence could be misleading, according to Time. The magazine describes the swearing-in of the new prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, on Tuesday by a "grim-faced" Musharraf as "setting the stage for what could be an ugly showdown between the country's democratic forces and the dictator, who is also a major U.S. ally."

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