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Chief Justice Chaudhry reinstated

Article published on the 2009-03-22 Latest update 2009-03-23 06:17 TU

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry (L) with his son, 20 March 2009.(Photo: Reuters)

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry (L) with his son, 20 March 2009.
(Photo: Reuters)

After two years of political turmoil, the Pakistani government reinstated Ifikhar Chaudhry as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on Sunday ending the lawyers’ movement that had, at times, carried out street battles with police across the country.

Cheering supporters gathered at Chaudhry’s house in Islamabad, singing the national anthem and raising Pakistan’s flag as a sign of victory.

Chaudhry and 60 other top judges were sacked in November 2007 by then-President Pervez Musharraf, who feared that the Supreme Court would disqualify him from seeking reelection while still remaining the head of the military.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced his intention to reinstate Chaudhry last Monday, which became official at midnight Sunday. The move was aimed at diffusing a months-long standoff between opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who backs Chaudhry, and Musharraf’s successor President Asif Ali Zardari.

“It marks the end of the active struggle of lawyers and the people of Pakistan,” said Aitzaz Ahsan, who led the lawyer’s campaign to reinstate Chaudhry.

“The fact that [the government] had to restore him came after months and months of political struggle, of tensions, of argument and subsequently a large demonstration,” explained corresponent Omar Waraich.

Explainer: Correspondent Omar Waraich in Islamabad

22/03/2009 by Rosslyn Hyams

“This represents a humiliating climb-down for the government, who had resisted this as hard as they could,” Waraich told RFI.