Monday, March 16, 2009

Mood in Lahore Exuberant as Pakistani Government Backs Down

After another frenzy of high level meetings, Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani announced that the government would re-instate the judges deposed by President Musharraf, including former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry. In response, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif called off the culmination of the "Long March" on Islamabad which was set to take place today. Since the judges were kicked out of office, lawyers across the country have been demanidng their reinstatement.

Pakistanis are celebrating, as they believe that this decision is a watershed that will lead to greater freedom and more transparency in the government. Many are hoping that once Iftikhar Chaudry takes his post on March 21st, he will immediately open up the cases against President Asif Zardari (known as Mr. 10% for allegedly funneling state money into his own bank accounts) and former president Pervaiz Musharraf.

Today the mood was celebratory, as children flew kites in for the annual Basant spring festival. Everyone is excited that the people of Pakistan were able to force the government to comply with their demands for justice.

What will happen next? I suspect that this decision may be a big step towards the departure of President Zardari, and that the political drama will continue.

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