Lawyers and representatives of bar associations assembled at the Constitution Avenue here and staged a protest rally in front of the parliament house for the restoration of the deposed judges.
During the protest some lawyers from Multan tried to enter the premises of the Supreme Court building. A number of lawyers belonging to the Multan Bar Association and seven officials – four police officers including SP (East) and three officers of district administration – were injured as a result of clash with the police.
The Supreme Court has summoned representatives of the district administration and the Islamabad police through its registrar for explanation. According to the district magistrate, lawyers had announced a programme to gather in front of the parliament house on Sept 4, 2008. The programme was to assemble at Geo Chowk and march towards the parliament house. Necessary coordination was in place between the local administration and the lawyers’ leadership in this regard, he said.
The event started as planned at around 11am. However, a group dissociated from the main gathering that had taken place in front of the parliament house and started to move towards the Supreme Court building, he added.
Keeping in view the sanctity of the building and security concerns involved, this small group was checked by police and the administration deployed on the spot. Consequently a scuffle broke out between this group and the police as the group tried to break through the security cordon, the district magistrate said.
As a result of this scuffle, Kamran Adil, SP (East) along with three other police officials, including Sub Inspector (SI) Yunus Gujjar, Noor Muhammad (constable) and Siddique (constable) received injuries while Yunus Gujjar has been admitted at Pims. Rana Akbar Hayat, Additional Deputy Commissioner and Capt (retd) Shahbaz Tahir, Assistant Commissioner Secretariat, were also injured. A lawyer, Khalid Ashraf, from Multan also received minor injuries.
Lawyers’ leaders, including SCBA president Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Justice (retd) Tariq, Sardar Ismatullah, Iqbal Haider and Haroonul Rashid, intervened and persuaded the group to return to the main gathering in front of the parliament house. As a result the matter was resolved and the crowd subsequently dispersed peacefully by 1.15pm.
The lawyers headed by Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and other leading figures of the movement for the restoration of the judiciary, including Munir A Malik, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmud, Rashid A Rizvi, Sardar Ismatullah Khan, Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry and others staged a sit-in in front of the parliament house for two hours and demanded early restoration of the deposed judges.
During the demonstration, the protestors condemned the government, particularly PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, for not implementing the Murree Declaration in letter and spirit. They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against Asif Ali Zardari and in favour of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, talking to reporters, said due to Ramazan the tempo of the lawyers movement might remain slow. However, he said the legal fraternity was determined to launch a full-fledged movement after Ramazan.
He said lawyers across the country would persuade the public about the reinstatement of the deposed judges of the superior judiciary, including deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He said the government was using delaying tactics, which has forced the legal fraternity to come to the streets.
He said Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign due to the untiring efforts and struggle initiated by the lawyers across the country. Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry told The News that although the people’s participation was low it should be kept in mind that it was purely s protest by the lawyers’ representatives. However, he said keeping in view the spirit shown by the legal fraternity and members of the civil society, it was clear that judges would have to be restored.
He said slogans against Asif Ali Zardari proved that the legal fraternity was united. He said that Asif Ali Zardari should respect the mandate given by the masses and implement the Murree Declaration in letter and spirit.
During the protest demonstration, the Constitution Avenue was blocked for traffic. Earlier, the lawyers’ representatives from the four provincial bar councils as well as lawyers from various parts of the country addressed the gathering during the two-hour sit-in.
Prominent among those, who addressed the lawyers, included Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari, Latif Afridi, Rashid A Rizvi, Sardar Ismatullah Khan, Munir A Milk, Chaudhry Amin Javed and Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry.