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Ousted Pakistan Appellate Judges to be Restored to Office

Posted May 1, 2008 2:08 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An agreement reportedly has been reached among Pakistan's new parliamentary leadership to restore to office all of the appellate judges removed last year by President Pervez Musharraf.

As part of the pact, however, it was decided that Chief Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry of the country's supreme court would be guaranteed only a four- or five-year term in office, instead of holding the seat until age 65, and the parliament may also restrict the court's powers, according to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

There had been some hesitation about returning Chaudhry to Pakistan's top judicial job. Although he had been accused last year by Musharraf of corruption, Chaudhry is considered a strong voice for an independent judiciary and the rule of law and many viewed this accusation as a trumped-up charge, according to the Associated Press and earlier ABAJournal.com posts.

About 80 judges could be restored to their previous seats under the agreement, according to another Wall Street Journal article. However, both AP and Bloomberg say 60 senior judges were removed from office by Musharraf in November, after he declared a state of emergency.

Musharraf's removal from office of the judges was the subject of widespread protests both by lawyers in Pakistan and by other attorneys and bar groups internationally, including the American Bar Association.

Additional coverage:

Al Jazeera: "Sharif vows to restore judges"

ABAJournal.com: "Sacked Pakistan Appellate Judges Could Be Restored to Office Soon"

ABA Journal: "Lawyers in Black"

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