Islamabad fortified as lawyers march into Punjab province

June 10th, 2008 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 10 (IANS) All points of entry into Islamabad and Rawalpindi cities in Pakistan’s Punjab province were being tightly guarded Tuesday as hundreds of lawyers, political activists and lay people launched a march to demand reinstatement of the judges President Pervez Musharraf sacked last year. Musharraf had Nov 3, 2007, sacked more than 60 judges of the superior courts, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The lawyers started their four-day march - dubbed the “Long March” - Monday from Karachi and Quetta with hundreds of people riding vehicles and chanting slogans “Go Musharraf, go” and “Struggle will continue until restoration of judges”.

The group of protesters entered Punjab province Tuesday and was moving towards Multan, where Ahsan, the deposed chief justice of the province, would address the agitating lawyers Wednesday.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan, who leads the lawyers’ movement, told IANS that thousands of people will join the march by the time it reaches Islamabad.

Officials said the road leading to Musharraf’s residence has been blocked by huge containers to keep away the protesters, whose slogan is: “We are out to save the country. Come join us”.

The lawyers are also planning to hold a large demonstration in front of the presidency and the parliament complex June 12.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is the ruling party in the Punjab province, has given a free hand to the lawyers for the march and has asked its party workers to fully participate in the movement.

However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that supported the lawyers’ movement before coming to power has distanced itself from the fresh protests.

Ahsan said the purpose of the march was to create awareness among all sections of society. He asserted that the people were most anxious to see the deposed judges back in their posts.

He said the lawyers and participants in the march would not be provoked and anyone resorting to violence or exhorting for it would be identified, isolated and asked to leave the march.

He also said that there would be no storming of any building or damage to any property during the march.

On Wednesday, a convention of lawyers hosted by the Multan Bar Council will be addressed by Iftikhar Chaudhry and deposed chief justice of the Sindh High Court Sabihuddin Ahmad.

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