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Pak's Chaudhry calls for end to corruption

world Updated: Mar 24, 2009 11:35 IST

Pakistan's top judge Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday called on lawyers to wipe out corruption in the judiciary, greeted with a standing ovation on his first day in court for 16 months.

"It is a matter of great satisfaction and a day of thanksgiving to Allah the almighty that after a long period the original court has been restored," Chaudhry told a courtroom packed with lawyers who rose to applaud his arrival.

"There is rampant corruption in this institution (judiciary). This cannot be eradicated without the help of lawyers. You people should come forward to point out such cases," he said.

"I will request all of you, being officers of this court, to put your house in order first," Chaudhry said.

His vehicle was showered with pink rose petals and surrounded by around 250 triumphant lawyers after swinging into the supreme court compound, following a short drive from his official residence under police escort.

Lawyers, who led a nationwide movement to restore Chaudhry after former military ruler Pervez Musharraf sacked him in November 2007, waved Pakistani flags and welcome banners, as activists released balloons into the sky.

Many clapped and danced in a festive mood, said an AFP correspondent.

The independent-minded Chaudhry and 60 other top judges were sacked by Musharraf, who feared the supreme court would disqualify him from contesting a presidential election while remaining head of the military.

In a dramatic U-turn, following months of broken promises and angry protests from lawyers, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced March 16 that the government had decided to reinstate the deposed chief justice.

It was a move calculated to end political turmoil after a three-week showdown between opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who was demanding Chaudhry's reinstatement, and Musharraf's unpopular successor, President Asif Ali Zardari.