As has been the case virtually every day recently, Pakistanis were out on the streets in force today. Yet the tenor of today’s gatherings were considerably different – where the previous rallies protested the Zardari government’s crackdowns and were met with fierce police resistance, today they were celebrating across the nation the restoration of ousted Chief Justice Iftkhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Flanked by lawyers, journalists and supporters, Chaudhry watched the speech by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani announcing his restoration on GEO Tv, the owners of the popular news channel which had previously been banned by the Zardari administration for covering the pro-Chaudhry protests.
After losing his coalition government’s largest partner, arresting hundreds of opposition figures and enforcing emergency rule on over 100 million people over the Chaudhry issue, President Zardari today claimed he never really opposed Chaudhry’s restoration in the first place. Rather, he claims he was just waiting for another justice’s retirement on March 21 to announce the restoration publicly. In other words, Zardari claims he brought the nation to the brink of collapse to keep from having to restore Chaudhry a week sooner than he wanted.