PAKISTAN: Historic verdict reinstates chief justice, challenges dictatorship

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Pakistan today 20 July 2007 declared the suspension of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftekhar Choudry, by the president, General Pervez Musharaff, to be illegal and instructed that he be reinstated. 

The Asian Human Rights Commission salutes the Supreme Court of Pakistan for this bold, upright and historic assertion of the independence of the judiciary, which sets an example for the whole of Asia.

Pakistan now again has a legitimate head to its judiciary. It is now his duty to carry the leadership that he has shown in these last few months back into his role as chief justice, in the intense struggle to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of his people under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

During the last few months the world has seen the courage of lawyers and judges in Pakistan, who have risked everything to defend the integrity of their institutions and professional credibility, in the interests of the entire public there. Their stamina and determination will remain indelibly marked upon our memory. They have truly earned the victory that has come today.

The Asian Human Rights Commission sincerely believes that the enormous trust vested in the chief justice by people throughout Pakistan, actively demonstrated in thousands risking and some losing their lives, will be reciprocated by the upholding of the highest traditions of the courts and legal values. There is no alternative. They have made clear that they want their judiciary to be separate from the executive. They will not tolerate the military bulldozing over every other institution in their country. They insist upon institutions for the rule of law and government through real, not fraudulent, legislative power.

Dictatorship has today been rejected as a viable form of government in Pakistan. But while the Supreme Court judgment must be celebrated, the task now falls to all serious-minded persons to think and act together and build upon this achievement. There remains much to be restored which has been lost under this military regime. The wisdom expressed in the streets and courts of Pakistan in the last few months, culminating in this judgment, must now give rise to a vision for a new Pakistan where democracy and the rule of law will wholly replace tyranny and injustice. Let us all work towards this goal.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-171-2007
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Administration of justice,