U.S. welcomes Pakistan's decision to restore deposed chief justice
16 Mar 2009
ISLAMABAD: March 16, 2009. (Xinhua) The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan issued a statement on Monday, welcoming the decision made the Pakistan government to restore the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
"We welcome the announcement by the Government of Pakistan of its plans to reinstate former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry," said the statement.
"This is a statesmanlike decision taken to defuse a serious confrontation, and the apparent removal of this long-standing national issue is a substantial step towards national reconciliation," it said.
"Now is the time for all Pakistanis and their political representatives to work together, with the support of their friends and allies, to peacefully strengthen their democracy and ensure a positive dialogue as they move forward to deal with the many issues confronting them," said the statement.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced restoration of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry earlier Monday in a televised address to the nation.
"My countrymen, in accordance with my commitment and the commitment made by the President of Pakistan, I declare reinstatement of Mr. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and all other deposed judges on their positions," the prime minister said.
"On March 21, on the retirement of the incumbent Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will assume the office of the Chief Justice," he said.
Gilani said that a notification is being issued shortly. The decision came after a high-level meeting in the President House Sunday night and early Monday.
A large number of political activists and lawyers rushed to the residence of the former chief justice to celebrate his restoration.
The government's decision came the same day when Sharif is due to lead the "long march" procession towards Islamabad to press for the government to restore the deposed chief justice.
Sharif, chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), spearheaded the procession from eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad after defying a detention order by the local administration.
The lawyers and political activists kicked off their "long march" on March 12.
The government has imposed restrictions over the demonstrations, arresting many lawyers and activists to stop them from entering Islamabad.
Gilani has demanded in his speech the immediate release of all political activists and lawyers who have been arrested over the past few days. He also announced end to a ban on political activities.
Sharif has called off the "long march" demonstration after the government's decision to restore the chief justice.
Some 60 Supreme Court and High Courts judges were sacked in November 2007 when then-President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency. Some of them took fresh oath of office while others including sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry are yet to be restored.