Lawyers' Movement - History

History

In March 2007 President Pervez Musharraf suspended Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Supreme Court Chief Justice, for misuse of his position. The suspension of Chaudhry was met with protests from Pakistan's legal community. Adliya Bachao Tehreek ("Save the Judiciary Movement") was formed to get Chaudhry reinstated, and to maintain the independence of the judiciary.

The movement was led by Presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan Munir A. Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Ali Ahmad Kurd along with others lawyer leaders.

On July 20, 2007, the Council (Supreme Court of Pakistan) restored Iftikhar Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and dismissed the charges against him.

On November 3, 2007, dictator Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan and again dismissed the Chief Justice along with sixty other judges, illegally and unconstitutionally, who refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order. Lawyers reacted to the dismissals, and emergency rule, by boycotting the courts, taking part in street protests and hunger strikes. People from outside the legal profession also took part in these protests.

The protests, and the international pressure triggered by them, forced Musharraf to end emergency rule in December 2007; however Chaudry and the other judges were not reinstated and the continued protests contributed to Musharraf's resignation in August 2008. The election of Asif Zardari as President resulted in a lull in activity by the Lawyers' Movement for most of 2008. Despite supporting the movement before becoming president, Zardari did not reinstate Chaudry.

Zardari's decision in February 2009 to declare President's rule in Punjab resulted in protests, encouraged by the deposed representative of the province, Nawaz Sharif, leader of the opposition party, PML-N. Sharif began calling for the reinstatement of Chaudry, reigniting the Lawyers' Movement and forcing Zardari to meet their demands. Chaudry was restored as the Chief Justice by Zardari and his Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, in March 2009.

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