Blow to Musharraf as new premier frees chief justice

Iftikhar Chaudhry, Pakistan's deposed chief justice, has been freed from house arrest within minutes of the country's new Prime Minister being chosen, in a swift double blow to President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Chaudhry, long a thorn in Mr Musharraf's side, had been under house arrest for five months following his sacking, but he emerged triumphant on to the balcony of his white-walled mansion to loud cheers from the crowds gathered on the lawn below.

"On behalf of all judges of the high courts and supreme [court] who were illegally and unconstitutionally detained for the last five months, I thank all of you for your support," said Mr Chaudhry, wearing a bullet-proof vest concealed beneath his long black tunic. "I do not have enough words to thank you all."

The judge was released on the orders of Yousaf Raza Gilani, a long-time loyalist of the assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto and member of her PPP party, who was elected as Pakistan's Prime Minister with more than two-thirds of the votes in a parliamentary ballot.

Yesterday's events will not have made for comfortable viewing at the presidential estate in Rawalpindi. The chants of "Go, Musharraf, go" at the judges' colony echoed the slogans heard in parliament, where the forces are now arrayed against the deeply unpopular President, with a man he imprisoned for four years at its head.

"Democracy has been revived due to the sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto," bellowed Mr Gilani, in his opening remarks to the parliament. "We didn't get here out of charity. This moment came because of continued struggle and martyrdom."

Mr Chaudhry's release is the most striking symbol yet of how power has slipped away from Mr Musharraf, a key Washington ally. But it remains to be seen if he and the 60 other judges sacked when the President imposed a state of emergency last November will be reinstated.

"We still have to achieve our goal and we must keep our efforts focused for a bright future for Pakistan for the rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution," said Mr Chaudhry.

Earlier this month, Pakistan's two largest parties – the PPP, led by Ms Bhutto's widower Asif Zardari, and the PML-N, led by the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – said they would reinstate the sacked judges through a vote in parliament within 30 days of a government being formed.

Khwaja Asif, a senior member of Mr Sharif's party, said: "This was our promise to the nation, and we stand by it." But some senior PPP members are less inclined, with one complaining that Mr Chaudhry's enthusiasm for challenging the bureaucracy "could make it difficult for a government to work properly".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness