Emilio Morenatti/AP
Pakistani lawyers hold candles as they shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration
next to the High Court of Lahore, Pakistan.

Pakistan Reinstates Chief Justice After Protests

March 16, 2009 04:30 PM
by Kate Davey
After protests rocked the city of Lahore, Pakistan President Zardari agreed to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Pakistani Police Join Protesters

On Sunday, March 15, crowds gathered outside the Lahore High Court to protest Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s “crackdown” on opposition groups who were pressuring the government to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other judges.

Kamran Shafi, a prominent columnist in Pakistan, told Time magazine, “Mr. Zardari has become a civilian dictator … Sadly all this is happening because he broke his promises to reinstate the chief justice ... What is going on now is repression.”

Opposition PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had been put under house arrest by President Zardari for three days, but left his house with supporters and called on others to join the “long march,” a term referring to the protests demanding the reinstatement of the Chief Justice.

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According to Time, two senior police officers resigned in support of the protests and the deputy inspector general was greeted with cheers by protesters as he apologized for his actions.
The current treatment of lawyers in Pakistan recalls the famous quote from Shakespeare’s play “Henry VI, Part II”: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” indicating that doing so prevents any legal objections to a revolution. But by dawn on Monday morning, the government had agreed to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Sharif called off the “long march.”

Background: Pakistani politics

In 2007, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was deposed by then-President Pervez Musharraf after Chaudhry questioned the legality of Musharraf’s move to suspend the Constitution and institute a state of emergency in Pakistan. Since then lawyers and political activists have protested for the reinstatement of Chaundhry. 

On September 6, 2008 Zardari was sworn in as the president of Pakistan after a violent election season that took the life of Zardari’s wife, presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto. 

When Zardari won the election, Pakistani newspapers voiced concern over his ability to lead the country at a critical time in the country’s future.

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