"For the first time, people have mattered in Pakistan," said Hamid Khan, a leader of the lawyer's movement. "Earlier, the corrupt elite, corrupt establishment in Pakistan ... did everything which goes against the interests and the aspirants of the people. And for the first time, the government had to accept the aspirations of the people."
Chaudhry is seen as someone willing to take on the establishment. Most notably, he was suspended -- and eventually deposed -- by Musharraf over the privatization of Pakistani Steel and other cases. The lawyers movement that sprang from the suspension helped force Musharraf from power.
"They in him can see a person who can deliver justice to the common man and can stand up to the big establishment of this country," Khan said. "And can call the high officials and be able to order them to provide justice to the ordinary people."
Because of the chief justice reputation for independence, most analysts have predicted that Chaudhry would consider repealing the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a deal orchestrated by the United States that helped bring Bhutto and Zardari back to Pakistan from exile.
If that order were repealed, Zardari's claim on the presidency would be in question. But there is little belief that repealing it would be simple, and Chaudhry's supporters today indicated he would not make that a priority.
As chief justice, Chaudhry will choose which cases are heard and which judges hear them. He could also make it a priority to revisit cases of "missing persons," hundreds if not thousands of people who were allegedly kidnapped by the government on behalf of local and Western spy agencies.
Advocates for the missing accuse the CIA and Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the ISI, of kidnapping suspected terrorists following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and declining to either charge them or release them. The CIA and the Pakistani government deny the claims.
Chaudhry began to highlight the cases of the missing in the months before he was deposed.
"At that time there were nearly 500 cases of missing persons from all over Pakistan which are now denied of justice," says Amina Janjua, who says her husband is among the kidnapped. She founded the Defense of Human Rights, an organization dedicated to highlighting the issue. She says she has confirmed that more than 600 people have been kidnapped.
It's not clear whether Chaudhry will once again highlight the cases of missing persons, but advocates hope he does.
After 9/11, Musharraf "had to show cooperation. Had to produce people. He had to bring people to hand over to America: 'Here are your terrorists, here are the criminals,'" Janjua said.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan's volatile northwest, the Taliban attacked a NATO supply depot near Peshawar this morning, not long after the prime minister's speech. It was the second attack on a NATO supply depot in two days.
"About 50 gunmen attacked us. ... They first disarmed us and then began setting fire to bulldozers and Humvees," Raza Khan, one of the depot's guards, told Reuters. "A police team arrived after about an hour and an exchange of fire took place for an hour."