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Reinstated Pakistani Chief Justice Returns to Work

Pakistan's chief justice has returned to work after being reinstated by the Supreme Court, four months after he was suspended by President Pervez Musharraf.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry began his first day back at work Saturday after the Supreme Court Friday reversed General Musharraf's March 9 suspension order, ruling that it was illegal. The president's office issued a statement saying General Musharraf would respect the court's decision.

The court also dismissed allegations of misconduct and abuse of power against Chaudhry by a 10-to-three vote.

The United States has welcomed the reinstatement of the chief justice. A State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said that although the outcome of the case is seen as a blow to General Musharraf, it shows the strength of Pakistan's political institutions.

Shortly after the ruling, lawyers and other Chaudhry supporters gathered outside the court cheered in celebration. Some called for President Musharraf to resign.

General Musharraf's move against the judge sparked violent nationwide protests that grew into the strongest challenge to the president since he took power eight years ago.

His critics also contend that the president removed Chaudhry in anticipation of legal challenges to his efforts to remain in his dual role as president and army chief.

The United States has said repeatedly that General Musharraf should give up the military post if he seeks another term as president.

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