In what is clearly a historic development, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani addressed the nation to announce the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. The address, which was supposed to be at 2AM Pakistan Time, was late by many hours but the subtext was true to the rumors that had been circulating in Pakistan all day:
Here is the full text of the Prime Minister’s speech:
My dear countrymen Assalam-o-Alaikum,
I am speaking to you at a time when our country is standing at a critical moment. No country can make progress without political tolerance and the PPP and lawyers have been together in struggle for upholding democracy in Pakistan. Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto actively participated in the struggle of restoration of judiciary was launched by lawyers. Benazir Bhutto wanted free judiciary and supremacy of the constitution.
The lawyersâ€™ movement for restoring of judges was their democratic right. The PPP was shoulder to shoulder with the lawyers in the cause for the independent judiciary.
The slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto also wanted to reinstate the deposed chief justice.
I have taken all his coalition partners and the President into confidence about the reinstatement of the deposed chief justice once the current chief justice retires on March 21.
The deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will assume charges on March 21.
Benazir Bhutto wanted free judiciary and supremacy of the constitution.
I order all the provincial government to abolish Section 144 at once.
After consultations with all political forces of the country and President Asif Ali Zardari, we have decided to restore all deposed judges including Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Chief Justice of Pakistan who will assume charge on March 21. The current Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar retires on March 21. I urge all the political forces and lawyers to work for the solidarity and welfare of the country.
Just over two years after he was first unceremoniously removed by Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, and having once been restored by the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has now been ‘restored’ yet again as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The road from there has been tumultuous. The movement that gathered around him was always bigger than the CJ and it was bigger than those around him. The vindication today is not simply of Chief Justice Chaudhry, it is a vindication of Pakistan’s civil society.
ATP has covered the ups and down of this story. For some reason one has a sense that this story is not over yet. We have celebrated a reinstatement once before too. And from the PM’s speech it is not clear at all what the terms of the decision really are. But right now one wishes simply to bask in the joyousness of the moment, in the vindication of justice, in the goodness of the news. There is much analysis that is needed, but let us leave that for just a little later.