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Pakistan lawyers, supporters welcome Chaudhry reinstatement

[JURIST] Members of the Pakistan lawyers' movement [JURIST news archive] on Monday welcomed the reinstatement [JURIST report] of Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], hailing the move as a major victory. Lawyers' movement supporters rallied at Chaudhry's home [Geo TV report] Monday, where the Chief Justice thanked the crowds for their support in the fight for reinstatement. Ali Ahmad Kurd, the president of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) commented favorably [NYT report] on the restoration, calling it a success for the country. Lawyers' movement leader Aitzaz Ahsan [JURIST news archive] celebrated the reinstatement, and called for Chaudhry's judicial neutrality [Dawn report] upon his return to the bench. The decision to reinstate Chaudry was also met with relief and positive statements from the European Union, the UK, and the Association of Pakistani Lawyers [Daily Times reports], a UK lawyers' group. A number of individual supporters of the lawyers' movement expressed their gratitude [Washington Post report] for Chaudhry's reinstatement, hailing it as a positive step for democratic rule in Pakistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile] announced early Monday that the government will reinstate Chaudhry in response to recent protests by members of the lawyers' movement and opposition politicians and supporters. Gilani also ordered government officials to release [Dawn report] anyone arrested during the past week's so-called "long march" [JURIST reports], which began Thursday. Reports first surfaced late Sunday that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website], had agreed to reinstate Chaudhry and other judges ousted by Zardari's predecessor Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive] in November 2007 after his declaration of emergency rule. Fomer prime minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [party website] have actively campaigned [JURIST report] for Chaudhry's reinstatement, leading a similar "long march" last summer. Chaudhry has always maintained that he is still chief justice [JURIST report] under the Pakistani constitution [text].

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