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Pakistani President Signs Order to Reinstate Deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice


Pakstian's president has signed an order formally reinstating popular Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who was fired two years ago.

President Asif Ali Zardari's order allows Chaudhry and four other Supreme Court justices to return to the bench on Sunday, March 22. It also restores six other high court judges.

Chaudhry and the others top judges were fired by former President Pervez Musharraf, setting off a street protest movement that culiminated in his resignation last year.

That movement was sparked again this week, this time directed at President Zardari.

On Monday, the legal community and supporters of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif won their key demand to restore the deposed Supreme Court justices after nearly a week of protests.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minster Yousuf Gilani promised to restore democracy in Sharif's stronghold in Central Punjab province.

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 the president's party.

That move along with the Supreme Court decision prompted accusations that President Zardari was interfering with the judiciary and set off the opposition protests.

After taking office, President Zardari had pledged to restore Chaudhry. But he repeatedly stalled on that promise causing Mr. Sharif to quit the coalition government earlier this year.

Analysts say President Zardari fears the independent-minded Chaudhry might question the legality of the amnesty that allowed Mr. Zardari and his widow, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to return to politics.

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