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The Carter Center Urges Restoration of Judiciary in Advance of Pakistani Elections

Contact: Deborah Hakes, 404-420-5124

Atlanta…The Carter Center calls on President Pervez Musharraf to restore immediately the independent judiciary he incapacitated during the recent state of emergency in Pakistan.

"Holding credible elections on January 8 will be impossible without the restoration of independent institutions that will supervise and determine the legality of the voting process," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

When President Musharraf lifted martial law on December 15 he continued to preclude judicial independence by confirming his hand-picked replacements of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other judges he sacked and imprisoned in November. The legal system in Pakistan was also undermined by a massive crackdown on the lawyers' movement. An estimated 5000 lawyers were arrested and charged with serious crimes because they demanded that the government restore an independent judiciary and respect the rights of disappeared persons. They will now have to defend themselves within a judicial system that Musharraf firmly controls.

The American Bar Association and many other similar organizations around the world have condemned this debacle in Pakistan. However, Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, has pointed out in a recent New York Times editorial that "The White House and State Department briefings on Pakistan ignore the removal of the justices and all these detentions."

President Musharraf can begin to repair this damage by reinstating the dismissed judges, restoring the power to license lawyers to the independent bar council, and dropping the charges against lawyers who participated in the protests. Otherwise, the elections will be a travesty.


The Carter Center has observed 69 elections in 27 countries since 1989. The Center is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization working to advance peace and health worldwide by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University. Please visit www.cartercenter.orgto learn more about The Carter Center.

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