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Pakistan's Popular Chief Justice Returns to Court

By VOA News
24 March 2009

Pakistan's Supreme Court chief justice got a hero's welcome Tuesday as he returned to work more than a year after being dismissed.

Lawyers threw rose petals and cheered when Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry arrived at the court in the capital, Islamabad.

Later, Chaudhry told a packed courtroom that Pakistan's real judiciary has now been restored. The chief justice also called on lawyers to wipe out "rampant corruption" in the judiciary.

Chaudhry and 60 other top judges were deposed by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2007 over fears his re-election was facing legal challenges.

Last week, current President Asif Ali Zardari conceded to opposition demands and reinstated Chaudhry after a week of protests. Most of the other judges have also been returned to their posts.

Britain and the United States also have welcomed Chaudhry's return to the court, calling it a first step towards political reconciliation.

President Zardari promised to restore Pakistan's judiciary after taking office last year. But he delayed, fearing the independent-minded chief justice might challenge an amnesty deal that allowed Zardari to return to politics after years in exile.

The issue prompted opposition leader Nawaz Sharif to quit the coalition government. A recent court decision banning Sharif and his brother from elected office sparked the anti-government protests and Chaudhry's reinstatement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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