ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
And I'm Madeleine Brand.
A big decision today from the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The court ruled that former President Pervez Musharraf acted unconstitutionally when he imposed a state of emergency back in 2007. It also nullified judicial appointments he made during that period. As NPR's Julie McCarthy reports, the decision lays the groundwork for charges of treason against Musharraf.
JULIE McCARTHY: The ruling was the culmination of two years of upheaval in Pakistan's judiciary, but a monsoon rainstorm lashed the skylights of the cavernous courtroom and drowned out the much-anticipated words of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as he read the verdict. Courtroom Number One was jammed with mostly lawyers who have pursued an independent judiciary with the kind of vigor that landed them in jail during the era of President Pervez Musharraf, who declared martial law.
Public interest in the case has been intense. The country is coming to terms with the past and the former president, whom the court today called a usurper.
Unidentified People: (Chanting) (Speaking foreign language)
McCARTHY: Outside the court, members of the Lawyers' Movement that helped push Musharraf from office last year noisily welcomed the decision. The ruling by the 14-member panel declared that Musharraf had used the garb of emergency rule to extend his own powers and that his proclamation of an emergency in 2007 was unconstitutional. Any act that flowed from it was tainted and is null and void.
Lawyers ultimately praised the chief justice and chanted, hang, Musharraf, hang. With this ruling, some 70 judges have been dismissed, including those sitting on the Supreme Court who swore allegiance to Musharraf under the act that imposed emergency rule.
Attorney Attar Minallah(ph) hailed the decision as a new beginning for Pakistan's judiciary.
Mr. ATTAR MINALLAH: Today, the Supreme Court has declared very clearly and unequivocally that whoever in future would even think of violating the constitution, they have no place in this society, and Pakistan is on its path towards rule of law.
McCARTHY: Chief Justice Chaudhry noted in his verdict, the constitution is supreme, and this decision will strengthen democracy and democratic institutions. It will also likely hasten calls to put former President Musharraf in the dock. Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup, is living in London.
Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.
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