Friday, February 22, 2008

Advocates on the move: Meeting Aitzaz Ahsan

Farooq Tariq
Labor Party Pakistan

We were today at Lahore High Court to participate in their Thursday weekly protest rally. Every Thursday, the advocates take out rallies. In Lahore, the advocates come from two different places and then join hands at Lahore High Court building. Here is what our observations are.

Over 4000 advocates marched on the main Mall Road of Lahore in a very defiant mood. They chanted slogans with full throat and vowed to continue struggle until end of military dictatorship and restoration of judiciary.

“Go Musharaf Go, Friends of Musharaf are traitors, You and me are dying with hunger, because the General Head Quarters Military (GHQ) has looted every thing, The black coats movement will win, Friends of Americans are traitors, Going with Musharaf will dig its own graveyard, We will prevail, restore our judges, down with those taking oath under PCO, Listen Chief (the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Choudry) we will die for you, The black coat will end Musharaf dictatorship, were some of the slogans raised at the rally.

They had earlier gathered at the hall of Lahore Bar Association and Karachi Hall at Lahore High Court. At Lahore Bar Association general body meeting, Justice Khawaja Sharif spoke and at Lahore High Court, Justice Shaihd Siddique and Justice Shafqat spoke of great movement of the advocates for the independence of judiciary. Later, Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudry spoke to Lahore High Court Bar Association members on telephone from Islamabad, where is detained at his home. Advocates were in a rebellion mood and were warning repeatedly to the future government of Pakistan Peoples Party.

“If they join hands with Musharaf, the struggle will be against them as well,” They praised the people of Pakistan who have voted against Musharaf. It seems that the movement has once again picked up to new heights. There were advocates from all ages and many elderly advocates were raising slogans like the young ones. The young ones were leading the rally with a great enthusiasm. The women advocates were raising many slogans as well.

One young advocate could raise slogans for many minutes continuously, winning many appreciations by the participants. She had almost made a song that she expressed in slogans along with her colleagues. Later in the afternoon, 10 of us went to the house of Aitzaz Ahsan, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association. We heard on the radio that he is again detained at his house after yesterday speech to the demonstrators who gathered at his house. There was a lot of police outside his house. We went in his office, which is situated at the back of his house.
There were over 30 present in the office.

His secretary Aftab welcomed us and told us that he cannot come out of his house. As we were writing messages for him, and handing over Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd Faiz number, Aitzaz Ahsan just came over to the office to the surprise of every one. He was very pleased to see us over there. He spoke a lot of word of praise for the contribution of Labour Party Pakistan during the struggle of advocates. He particularly thanked me for all the enthusiasm we are bringing in the movement. He appealed to every one there to be ready for 9 March to reach Islamabad if judges are not restored. That will be the main preparation for every one in Pakistan.

He said he has just come out of his house to greet us briefly. The police officials were there but did not intervene or asked him to go inside the house. Earlier, on the radio, I heard that Punjab Government home secretary has issued strict orders that no one can meet Aitzaz and that Aitzaz has broken the law yesterday by coming out of his house to join the demonstration briefly.

It seems that the Punjab government has lost its control over its institutions of repression and the police was not doing what they were asked to do. We left his house after this brief encounter with Aitzaz, he was very happy and was eager to show his commitment to continue the struggle till the end of dictatorship.

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