United4Justice: Good to see movement back on track.
By Rana Tanveer
LAHORE: More than 250 people, including lawyers and civil society activists, held a rally from outside Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan’s residence to The Mall on Sunday and demanded the restoration of the judiciary to its pre-November 3 position.
The protesters gathered outside Ahsan’s residence, 5 Zaman Park, which has been declared as a sub-jail for him. They began their march from there to The Mall via the Canal Road without disturbing traffic. They were holding the national flag and wore black armbands and protested against Benazir Bhutto’s killing and extension in Aitzaz’s detention. They shouted anti-government and pro-Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) slogans.
The police wanted the protestors not to take to The Mall, but they did not pay heed. After gathering on The Mall, they distributed pamphlets in favour of the deposed judges among the people. They observed silence for a minute to commemorate Benazir Bhutto and then sung the national anthem before returning to Aitzaz’s residence where they held a candlelit vigil by placing a large portrait of former PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.
Earlier, addressing the protesters, Bushra Aitzaz said the pervasive sense of despondency reflected that the country had been experiencing the worst since long. The restoration of chief justice in the wake of the March 9 movement had been taken as a silver lining, but the country again plunged into despair after Benazir’s killing, she said. “Had there been an independent judiciary in the country, the need for inviting the Scotland Yard for probing Benazir’s murder would not have arisen,” she said.
Ms Aitzaz said people doubted if the movement would help gain independence for the judiciary. “Every movement takes time to take roots and succeed. If we abandon the movement now, those following us will be stranded,” she said, and added that it had been unfortunate that Pakistan had been divided in 1971, and again it stood on the verge of disaster.
She said the government had gagged the media to hide the facts of Benazir’s assassination from the people. She said the government had confined the deposed judges since November 3 and even barred their children from attending schools. She said several institutes around the world had declared that the country could not run under President Pervez Musharraf. “If we joined hands to strive for our mission, we can make him go sooner,” she added.
Former Sindh inspector general and Lahore deputy inspector general Sayyed Salman Khaliq distributed pamphlets among the people during the protest rally. He told Daily Times that the country was being pushed to the brink of civil war. He said the people would not accept the Chaudhries. He said holding free and fair elections the only way to save the federation. He urged the people to take to the streets against the government.
Dr Ijaz Ahsan, brother of Aitzaz Ahsan, condemned the government for extending the detention of his brother. He said Aitzaz had never committed anything illegal and the government was wrongly detaining him. Columnist Shafqat Mahmood said he felt sorry that the people were still not reacting the way they should have on the murder of Benazir Bhutto.
Concerned Citizen of Pakistan representative Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Joint Action Committee representative Shahtaj Qazalbash, PPP former MPA Sagheera Islam, Pakistan Medical Association President Dr Zahid Muhiuddin and Teachers’ Action Forum representative Sara Zaman were also present on the occasion.