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Returning judge calls for end to corruption

THE Pakistani chief justice whose ouster sparked political turmoil called for an end to judicial corruption upon returning to court yesterday, a day after the president - who had long blocked the judge's reinstatement - reached out to reconcile.

Meanwhile, the capital remained tense after a suicide bombing killed an officer at a police station housing intelligence facilities - a reminder of the militant threat to this United States-allied nation.

Supporters of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry threw rose petals on his car as it entered the Supreme Court compound. Chaudhry technically resumed his position on Sunday, the day after the justice who had replaced him retired.

At the start of his first hearing, Chaudhry thanked Pakistanis for supporting his restoration but warned that the population often viewed the courts as corrupt.

"Lawyers should help us end corruption," he said. "You should point out those cases in which you see elements of corruption. It is a must for justice to end corruption first."

The judge is likely to face strong scrutiny, especially in politically sensitive cases.

In a sign of the challenges ahead, a petition filed yesterday requested that the government pursue treason charges against former President Pervez Musharraf, whose firing of Chaudhry spawned a major protest movement.

Agitation over Chaudhry's fate had riveted Pakistan but worried Western allies who feared it would distract the country from battling al-Qaida and the Taliban. Their fighters are believed to have established bases where they plan attacks on US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari asked feuding factions to put aside their differences.

"I urge everyone to work in the spirit of tolerance, mutual accommodation and respect for dissent and invite everyone to participate in the national effort for national reconciliation and healing the wounds," Zardari said.


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