The Wrong March

PTI goondas carry dandas into Islamabad

A day after it began, PAT+PTI long march is beginning to reach Islamabad and the Kaptaan himself is expected to arrive later tonight. Imran Khan’s attitude has been comically arrogant, as apparent from his Twitter feed:

The government has been completely distracted by the marches, having to give full attention to security and responding to the crisis. Meanwhile, life moves on and while all political leaders are fighting on the streets, Pakistan continues to suffer from purely preventable problems.

This week, five more polio cases detected – including in Punjab – bringing year’s total to 115. The stock market has crashed 1300 points. Terrorists continue their war against Pakistan, last night attacking near Samungli Airbase bringing a startling reminder of devastating attack against Kamra Airbase in 2012.

This is not meant as a defence of Nawaz Sharif’s policies, or a justification of opposition complaints. Let me just ask this: Imagine if instead of organising long march to overthrow the government, Imran Khan organised a long march to end polio. Imagine if instead of organising long march to overthrow the government, Imran Khan organised a long march to defend minorities. Imagine if instead of organising supporters to deliver blows, Imran Khan organised supporters to deliver text books.

Even if Imran Khan’s ‘Azadi March’ succeeds, PMLN government will be gone but polio, terrorism, sectarianism, lack of education will all remain. Imran Khan knows he can organise massive action. He just doesn’t know what he should be organising action against.

Senior lawyers back Aitzaz Ahsan

Today’s Dawn carried a front page story emphasizing the leaders of the lawyers’ movement are against the current judicial practices. The lawyers’ movement was of course in response to utterly unconstitutional actions taken by leaders at the time. Once again we are seeing that there are lawyers who feel we are going in the wrong direction, and against what the Long March stood for.



ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the lawyers’ movement who have been in the background since the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry appear to be in fighting mood again.

And this time they have pitted themselves against some people in their own ranks by claiming that Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan is still the chairman of the National Coordination Council (NCC) that had steered the movement.

Dawn has learnt that the old guard met in Karachi on Tuesday to stake the claim at a time when the newly-elected leadership of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has been projecting itself as the standard-bearer of the movement.

At the over three-hour-long dinner meeting, the 35 senior lawyers, including four former presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Aitzaz Ahsan, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood, Ali Ahmed Kurd and Muneer A. Malik, were unanimous in their view that Barrister Ahsan still held sole authority to issue any protest calls or set any line of action, one of the participants told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

The sitting SCBA president, Qazi Muhammad Anwar, who claims to be the chairman of the NCC and prominent lawyer leader Hamid Khan, one of the leaders of the lawyers’ struggle, were conspicuous by their absence at the dinner hosted by Athar Minallah, who acted as spokesman for the chief justice during the movement.

Interestingly, the meeting coincided with the presence of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who is holding his court in Karachi and is scheduled to attend a dinner hosted in his honour by the Sindh High Court Bar Association.

Formed in 2008 to campaign for the restoration of pre-emergency (November 3, 2007) judiciary, the NCC became controversial when Qazi Anwar issued a countrywide strike call for Jan 28 to press for implementation of the apex court’s verdict in the NRO case. However, seeing the response of senior lawyer leaders, he later withdrew the call.

Refuting the claim that Barrister Ahsan is still the head of the NCC, Qazi Anwar recently said that the council had not made Mr Ahsan its chairman for ever. He claimed that he had been elected NCC chairman at a meeting attended by the heads of all high court bars and chairmen of provincial bar associations and other members of the NCC.

However, a senior lawyer said it was improper not to invite the real leaders of the lawyers’ movement to the meeting which declared Qazi Anwar as NCC chairman.

The Karachi meeting also decided that former president of Lahore High Court Bar Anwar Kamal will be the next candidate for SCBA president.

There was consensus at the meeting that at this stage the lawyers should maintain their unity by sticking to the main objective of the lawyers’ movement, namely to ensure supremacy of the Constitution and to protect democratic institutions and democracy.

At the moment, the focus of the legal fraternity should be to assist the judiciary in implementing the National Judicial Policy 2009, a judicial plan of action for eradicating corruption and inefficiency among lower judicial officers and court staff and clearing the backlog with quick disposal of cases.