ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Friday the Supreme Court reinstating Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and quashing the reference against him showed that the Constitution and law had prevailed and all shades of opinion must accept the verdict and "look ahead" to the elections.
“I would like to emphasise that we must all accept the verdict with grace and dignity reflective of a mature nation. This is not the time to claim victory or defeat. The Constitution and law have prevailed and must prevail at all times,” Mr. Aziz said soon after the verdict was announced.
He asked the nation to look ahead, and “unite against the current wave of extremism and militancy”.
“Today is the time for unity and cohesion to fight this threat to our ideology and our integrity. We should all look ahead to the elections scheduled for later this year and prepare ourselves to fully participate in the forthcoming democratic process,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the government would spare no effort to ensure that the democratic process “remains on track” and expected all political parties and different segments of the society to work for completing the process “efficiently and transparently”.
Struggle will continue for civilian rule: lawyers
Pakistan’s legal community will continue the struggle for the establishment of civilian rule, said lawyers who led a four-month agitation for the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and the quashing of the reference against him.
Prominent lawyers called for the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf, while commentators said the judgment was a major setback to his re-election plans.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan erupted with sounds of jubilation after the full court quashed the Presidential reference against Mr. Chaudhary and reinstated him on Friday. The verdict brought the curtain down on a two-month hearing of Mr. Chaudhary’s petition challenging the action against him. But the lawyers, who broke out in spontaneous celebration after the presiding judge of the full court, Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, read out the court’s short order, said their struggle would go on.
“We have promised the people of Pakistan the rule of law and constitutional supremacy and we will work for that,” said Munir A Malik, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who was also in Mr. Chaudhary’s legal team.
Describing it a historic day for Pakistan, he said the judicial history of the country had been rewritten.
“President Musharraf should seriously consider resigning,” said Mr. Malik. He said “phase 1” of the lawyers’ struggle was over, but “phase 2” would begin.
“Making the Chief Justice dysfunctional was the effect. We have to look at the cause which is the absence of civilian rule,” said Mr. Malik.
Eminent human rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Asma Jehangir demanded that President Musharraf step down.
“President Musharraf should not only resign — he should have resigned long ago — he owes the people of this country an apology,” Ms. Jehangir said.