Pakistan's sacked chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has declined a Saudi exile offer to resolve the simmering judicial and political crisis in the Asian Muslim countries.
"On behalf of the Pakistani government, the Saudi ambassador [Ali S Awadh Asseri] offered justice Chaudhry that if he agrees to voluntarily retire, the government is ready to reinstate the sacked judges, except Justice Kahlail ur Rehman Ramday, whom it considers the second main character of the judicial crisis," said a source privy to the President House.
Family sources confirmed that the ambassador offered Chaudhry to stay in Saudi Arabia after his retirement.
"Saying thank you, he told the ambassador he could not go abroad in the present crisis," they told IOL.
"This is for the first time in the history when there is a coup against judiciary instead of a government," the strong-welled ousted chief justice told the envoy.
"The time has come when the people of Pakistan should decide whether they want rule of law or the rule of violators (of law)."
Chaudhry also turned down an offer to perform hajj as a state guest in a bid to quench the growing anti-Musharraf movement in the country.
"How can I leave my country at this critical juncture?"
Ambassador Asseri was the first person allowed to meet Chaudhry who has been under house arrest since President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency on November 3.
At least judges of the supreme and high courts have since been forcibly retired by the government and placed under virtual house arrest.
Sources privy to the President House said the government thinks that the presence of Chaudhry will be a permanent threat to Musharraf regime, that is why it wants him to leave the country.
"General Musharraf wants him to stay away from the country in any case, otherwise he will be a permanent threat to his regime," he added.
Justice Chaudhry have come to symbolize the new drive for democracy and the independence of the judiciary in Pakistan.
He is held at high esteem by the lawyers community, leading the campaign against the imposition of emergency and suspension of the constitution.
Chaudhry remains, in the eyes of the main opposition parties, the legitimate top judge of Pakistan.
More than 300 policemen manning concrete and barbed wire barricades near the Islamabad residence of Chaudhry on Thursday blocked former premier Nawaz Sharif from meeting him.
Police prevented former prime minister Benazir Bhutto from meeting Chaudhry last month.
Musharraf has been at loggerheads with the judiciary since he first tried to sack Chaudhry in March, a move that led to massive street protests and sent his popularity plummeting.
Critics say Musharraf's main motivation for imposing the emergency was to purge the Supreme Court amid fears that they would invalidate his victory in an October 6 presidential election.
The new-look court rubber-stamped his election win last month and Musharraf was subsequently sworn in for a second term as a civilian president.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Aralık 2007, 12:55