Jun 062008

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: Will President Pervez Musharraf be able to bear the powerful onslaught of the lawyers’ community, fully supported by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on June 12, is the question being hotly discussed in almost all the circles of Islamabad.
Many confidently claim that next Thursday’s sit-in before the parliament building, in front of the presidency and the Supreme Court, will serve as a final push to drive Musharraf out of the Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Some even feel that the president may be asked by those known for pulling the strings offstage to go or he may himself opt to quit, seeing the insurmountable public tide having risen against him.

Protesting lawyers and their chief backers, including the PML-N, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf, are of the firm view that the June 12 demonstration of their power would be a watershed in Pakistan’s chequered judicial and political history and the culmination of over-a-year long agitation against Musharraf and for the restoration of the deposed judges.

They are aware of the fact that if they are unsuccessful to achieve their target – pulling the president down – this time again, their struggle will receive a huge setback and Musharraf would improve upon his position and confidence.

Already, signs of fatigue are generally emerging due to the prolongation of the lawyers’ movement and voices have been raised to move beyond the judges’ issue as the president is cornered and unable to hatch any conspiracies.

Discerning people believe that the federal government’s utmost effort is to keep the long marchers peaceful because any major disruption of normal life or violence will aggravate its

problems and may portray it as weak and incapable administration that turned out to be helpless when faced with the first major protest.

On its part, the Punjab government is poised to not only facilitate in the maximum possible way but also participate in the protest march so that the show further incapacitates a beleaguered Musharraf.

The PML-N is extending every sort of assistance to the lawyers’ community to make the protest a big success. By June 12, Shahbaz Sharif will be in the Chief Minister’s House. Another question that has evoked attention and heated debate in public circles revolves around the number of participants of the long march that the lawyers and their allies, including the PML-N and others, will be able to assemble in front of the parliament building. If they are around half-a-million, a figure that doesn’t seem unachievable if every PML-N MNA and MPA contributes 1,000 persons to the long march, Musharraf would be unable to stand the immense public pressure.

Organisers think that this would be a loud message to Musharraf backers to revoke their support and ask him to call it a day, saving the country from further disastrous consequences. The federal law enforcement agencies will not be in a position to do anything to cut down the number of long marchers, using traditional administrative tactics, till G.T. Road, touching Islamabad limits, and Faizabad flyover, as the Punjab jurisdiction extends to these points.

However, when protesters will try to force their entry into the capital and the Islamabad Police will attempt to block them, a law and order situation will be created. At the same time, the federal government will have to do a tightrope walking so that it doesn’t annoy, by employing force against the participants of the long march, the PML-N, which is still its ally at the central and the Punjab levels and also a dominant part of the lawyers’ movement.

The federal government is consistently showing its uneasiness over Aitzaz Ahsan-led long march. Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed recently said, echoing the official disquiet, that the lawyers’ leader was crossing the limits.

But, the PPP continues to be happy quietly on seeing Musharraf coming under growing attack. Although, it has spurned provocation to impeach him, it has no love lost for him, and wants to divest him of all worthwhile powers.

The constitutional package, unfolded by the PPP, has brought no good news for the lawyers’ community, which has rejected it altogether. As per the well-considered policy, there has been no official attempt to appease the lawyers so that they tone down their protest. Even PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari has not forcefully asked Aitzaz Ahsan to halt the protest.

Source: The News, 6/6/2008

 Posted by at 8:39 am

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