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New Pakistan PM pledges to restore constitution, ensure judicial independence

[JURIST] Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani [official profile] said Friday that he will restore Pakistan's constitution [text], ensure the supremacy of the country's parliament, and preserve judicial independence [JURIST report]. Speaking at a news conference commemorating the death of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [BBC backgrounder], the former civilian PM and founder of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [party website] executed in 1979 under the authority of military ruler General Zia ul-Haq, Gilani promised to bring Pakistan's government back into the hands of citizens and in line with Bhutto's vision. Gilani heads the new coalition government formed by the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-N [party website].

Last week, Gilani told parliament during his first major policy speech since taking office that he would "work for the reinstatement" of superior court judges [JURIST report] purged by President Pervez Musharraf last fall. Also last week, Gilani ordered the release [JURIST report] of former Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] and several other judges from months-long house arrest. Following his release last week, an associate of Chaudhry said Friday that Chaudhry has decided not to leave Islamabad [AP report] to make appearances around the country to advocate for his reinstatement as chief justice. The decision was prompted by a desire to avoid seeming as though Chaudhry is pressuring the new government. Pakistani Attorney General Malik Qayyum has said reinstating the ousted judges would require a constitutional amendment [JURIST report] with a two-third majority vote. PTI has more.

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