Iftikhar Chaudhry restored

Courtesy: Dawn

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday announced that the government had decided to reinstate the country’s Supreme Court chief justice in a bid to end political turmoil.

Main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has been locked in a showdown with President Asif Ali Zardari demanding the reinstatement of the top judge, who was sacked by ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007.

I announce today that Iftikhar Chaudhry and all other deposed judges will be reinstated from March 21,’ Gilani said in a televised address to the nation.
The current Supreme Court chief justice will retire on that date, allowing Chaudhry to take over, the premier said.

He directed provincial governments to release all those arrested during a stringent government clampdown aimed at foiling a so-called long march organised by lawyers and political activists, due to reach Islamabad on Monday.

He also immediately lifted section 144, a 19th century British law, put into effect in the capital and the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and North West Frontier Province outlawing public demonstrations.

‘I order all the provincial governments to release political workers, lawyers and all those arrested during the long march,’ he said.

‘I want to congratulate the nation. Let us celebrate this with dignity.’ Jubiliant lawyers, activists and political opponents danced in the streets in joy, waving party flags and punching the air in delight at exacting the ‘victory’ from the government.

“This was the promise made by our late leader Benazir Bhutto that the chief justice will be restored and I had also made the promise after I took over as prime minister,’ said Gilani.

‘I think the time has come to fulfil this promise, so I have advised the president and he has agreed to reinstate chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry from March 21,’ Gilani added.

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