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Pakistani Prime Minister Promises to Restore Democracy in Key Province


Pakistani Prime Minster Yousuf Gilani has promised to restore democracy in a politically important province.

Gilani's comments Tuesday come just one day after President Asif Ali Zardari conceded to opposition demands to reinstate the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Gilani said his government's top priority is to lift governor's rule in Central Punjab province, a stronghold of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

The prime minister was referring to the removal of Sharif's brother, Shabaz, after a Supreme Court ruling barred both men from elected office. Immediately after the decision, President Zardari invoked governor's rule, removing Shabaz Sharif as chief minister of Punjab and installing a member of his party.

That move along with the Supreme Court decision sparked demands by the legal community and opposition supporters for the reinstatement of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Sharif and his supporters accused President Zardari of interfering with the judiciary and organized a week of protests across Pakistan.

After first cracking down on protesters, the president agreed to reinstate Chaudhry. The opposition called off its planned sit-in at the parliament in the capital, Islamabad, Monday.

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif declared victory, calling the development an "historic achievement."

Former chief justice Chaudhry was fired in 2007 by then-president Pervez Musharraf, after pursuing a case challenging Mr. Musharraf's rule.

President Zardari had pledged to restore Chaudhry after taking office. But he broke that promise, stirring outcry from lawyers and the opposition led by Mr. Sharif, a former prime minister.


Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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