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Pakistan High Court Rejects Judge's Suspension


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


NPR's Philip Reeves is at the supreme court in Islamabad. He joins us now. Philip, what does this ruling mean for President Musharraf and for Pakistan?

PHILIP REEVES: Well, it's being seen as a blow to the credibility of President Musharraf. He is a military ruler, and he is used to getting his own way in such matters. But here is a case in which he has been defied, not only by the entire legal community of Pakistan but by a significant sweep of the mainstream opposition political parties, virtually all of them. And they have won this case. And so that will be perceived as a political blow to Musharraf, a significant one at a time when he's already immersed in a number of problems on other fronts, not least of which is the battle against Islamist violence, Islamist extremism.

WERTHEIMER: How did this get to be a big political issue that - could it even possibly endanger Musharraf?

REEVES: And therefore, they see it as a significant step in the legal process of preventing Musharraf from running as president by getting the vote of the present national and local - provincial legislatures while keeping his job as army chief of staff. They want him to come out of uniform. And they will see this as the important moment in which their hand, as it were, has been significantly strengthened by the support of the supreme court in this case.

WERTHEIMER: Is the chief justice a symbol of law in Pakistan or could he be a political rival for General Musharraf?

REEVES: He has become a symbol of political opposition to Musharraf in the last four months, which have seen some remarkable things. He traveled the country in a convoy. In one case, when he went to Lahore, it literally took him 24 hours to get there from Islamabad, a journey that's usually four hours, because his convoy was so swamped with people. So he became a kind of lightning rod for opposition. But he is fundamentally a legal figure. He's a judge and has refrained from joining in directly and openly with any given, identifiable political antidote.

WERTHEIMER: Phil Reeves, thank you very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's Philip Reeves reporting from Islamabad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As NPR's senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer travels the country and the globe for NPR News, bringing her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day's top news stories.
Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.