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Central & South Asia
Pakistan chief judge resumes duties
Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry starts work at his residence in the capital Islamabad.
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2007 10:30 GMT
Musharraf suspended Chaudhry for allegedly pulling rank to secure a police job for his son [EPA]

Pakistan's chief justice has resumed his official duties, a day after Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, lost a bid to dismiss him.
 
Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry started work at his residence in the capital Islamabad to the cheers of hundreds of rallying lawyers, who called on Musharraf to resign.
Chaudhry's reinstatement on Friday has clouded the political future of Musharraf, a key US ally in the 'war on terror', just as the country faces growing violence.
 
There was also a small rally in support of Chaudhry in the eastern city of Lahore.

Landmark case

In a landmark ruling, the supreme court judges voted unanimously to restore Chaudhry, and 10-3 to quash charges of misconduct that Musharraf had sent to a separate judicial tribunal.

The surprise verdict, on an appeal from Chaudhry, was widely hailed as a democratic breakthrough in a country dominated by the military for most of its 60-year history.

Many had expected the court to reinstate him while letting the tribunal's investigation continue.

It also triggered fresh calls for Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 military coup, to step down.

Cheers from lawyers, reverberated through courtroom on Friday, after Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, the presiding judge, announced that the judge's suspension was "illegal" and set aside the charges against him.

The lawyers had led mass protests against Musharraf since he suspended Chaudhry on March 9.

No 'political motive'

Chaudhry, who was expected to return to his supreme court office on Monday, has not commented on the ruling, which was accepted by Musharraf.

In Washington, Tom Casey, state department deputy spokesman, said the reinstatement "respects the rule of law" and praised the fact the court was "capable of making independent decisions."

Musharraf suspended Chaudhry for allegedly pulling rank to secure a police job for his son and enjoying unwarranted privileges such as the use of government aircraft.

The government insists the case had no political motive.

However, critics suspected Musharraf of plotting to remove an independent-minded judge to forestall legal challenges to his plan to ask politicians for another five-year term.

Source:
Agencies
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