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Pak ‘long march’ reaches capital

Thousands of people converge on the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as the long march of the lawyer community enters its last leg in Pakistan, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Jun 13, 2008 22:49 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Thousands of people converged on the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as the long march of the lawyer community entered its last leg in Pakistan on Friday. The march, which started in Karachi on Monday, ended up in Islamabad on Friday, where the local administration tried to restrict the movement of the lawyers by citing security concerns.

The lawyers are demanding the restoration of Pakistan’s sacked chief justice and the reinstatement of sacked Supreme Court judges as part of a larger deal that the government of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and coalition allies, including the PML-N party, reached prior to the February 2008 elections.

While no untoward incident was reported, lawyers said that they would not allow the government to “come in their way”. The final destination of the long march is the Parliament House in Islamabad where leaders of the lawyer community would address those participating.

Aitazaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, told the media that he was encouraged by the overwhelming response of the people and lawyers towards the protest march. “This is not just a lawyers march. It is also common persons, people from civil society and hundreds of others who are participating,” he said.

For its part, the government closed off many entry and exit points to Islamabad to try and restrict the route of the lawyer march. A local administration official said that this had been done to ensure that the march did not affect areas that were not in the route of the march. “We want to take all security precautions,” he said.