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International Law

Pakistan’s Chief Justice Reinstated

Posted Jul 20, 2007 9:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: In a historic decision seen as promoting judicial independence and the rule of law, the Pakistan Supreme Court has reinstated the country's top judge following months of protests over his ouster.

It is the first time the court has ever decided against a Pakistan military ruler, reports the London Times, which described widespread celebration in court and elsewhere over the decision, particularly among lawyers. It ran a photograph of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry surrounded by supporters showering him with rose petals, and about 1,000 lawyers reportedly knelt in Lahore in celebration of the verdict and distributed candy.

The court ruled today that Chaudhry was illegally suspended, Associated Press reports. The ruling is a major challenge to the power of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who suspended the justice on March 9.

Musharraf, who has been trying to quell escalating violence from warring factions in Pakistan, said he will accept the ruling, the Times reports. “The president has said the judgment of the Supreme Court will be honored, respected, and adhered to,” said retired Major General Rashid Qureshi, a spokesman. Violence claimed the lives of more than 50 people in Pakistan yesterday.

The government had contended Chaudhry misused his office for political gain, but critics said Musharraf acted with the goal of removing an independent judge. Today's 10-3 ruling quashes all charges against the chief justice, BBC News reports.

Chaudhry's ouster sparked protests by lawyers and Musharraf opponents throughout the country. His lead lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, called today's ruling “a victory for the entire nation.”

Bloomberg (Pakistan Court Reinstates Judge Ousted by Musharraf).

Washington Post (Decision Deals Political Blow to Musharraf).

Originally posted 07-20-2007 7:14 AM.

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