Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Musharraf desires warm relations with Chaudhry

AGENCIES , ISLAMABAD

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he sought "harmonious ties" with the recently reinstated chief justice he tried to fire four months ago in a move that ultimately weakened him politically.

"We had family ties and hope to maintain [the] same harmonious ties in future," he reportedly said of his relationship with the judge, adding that judiciary independence "is essential for the running of a government."

Musharraf, who is passing through what is widely seen as the most beleaguered phase of his eight-year rule, suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in March on charges of misconduct.

That sparked a countrywide campaign against the move by the lawyer community and opposition groups, and the Supreme Court quashed the charges and reinstated Chaudhry on July 20.

In his first comment on the judgement, Musharraf said he accepted it and would honor it.

He had personal relations with Chaudhry and hoped to maintain them, he also said.

Musharraf, who is also army chief, said he held judges in "highest esteem" and had never tried to politicize the judiciary.

He plans to seek re-election next month or in October from the existing assemblies while remaining in army uniform. General elections are due later this year or early next year.

Many analysts believe Musharraf's move to sack Chaudhry might have been motivated by fears the judge could block his plans.

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