ISLAMABAD - Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari announced the reinstatement of the country’s sacked top judge and 10 others Tuesday, a day after yielding to country-wide protests by lawyers and opposition parties amid a political standoff.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement that judge Iftikhar Chaudhry will assume office as the chief justice of the Supreme Court on March 22, following the retirement of the current top judge.
Ten more dismissed judges are also reinstated with immediate effect, he was quoted as saying by the Dawn news channel. The president has signed a notification forwarded to him by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, he added.
Chaudhry, along with more than 60 others, was fired in November 2007 by then-president and military strongman Pervez Musharraf, who feared a verdict against his presidential candidacy.
Most of the judges rejoined the judicial set-up in the following months after taking an oath under a controversial order by Musharraf, but Chaudhry and 10 others rejected a fresh swearing-in because they believed their dismissal was illegal.
The judges were not required to be sworn in again, the government’s top attorney Latif Khosa said. Babar said they would be restored to their pre-November 2007 positions.
Gilani announced the reinstatement of all deposed judges early Monday, pre-empting a huge crowd of protesters demanding the judges’ return, who had crossed the eastern province of Punjab to end their rally with a sit-in in the capital Islamabad.
The surprise decision came after an apparent push by the governments of the US and Britain, which were concerned about the growing instability in Pakistan, a key western ally in the fight against terrorism.