Karachi: The legal fraternity had announced another “Long March” on March 9, 2009, to seek the reinstatement of chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
“Lawyers will start a long march throughout the country and assemble on March 9 at Islamabad’s constitutional avenue,” Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Ali Ahmed Kurd told journalists after the National Coordination Council (NCC) meeting in Karachi. He categorically said that lawyers would stage a sit-in in front of the Parliament House. When asked about the duration of the sit-in, however, he said that it would be specified later.
Flanked by NCC leaders Chaudhry Aitazaz Ahsan, Rasheed A. Razvi, Munir A. Malik, Sardar Ismatullah, Latif Afridi, Mohammad Ali Abbasi and others, Kurd said that injustice and lawlessness could not be stopped until an independent and fearless judiciary was restored. He appealed to the lawyers, students, civil society, political parties and workers to join the long march, head towards Islamabad and stage a sit-in for the restoration of the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
Former SCBA President Chaudhry Aitazaz Ahsan provided details of the NCC meeting. He said that the council members had taken stock of the existing state of the lawyers’ movement for the reinstatement of all judges of the superior courts who were made non-functional on November 3, 2007. He also announced that an All-Pakistan Lawyers Convention will be held at Lahore on January 24.
Ahsan said that another lawyers convention will also be held at the national level on February 18, on the first anniversary of the general election that was the outcome of the lawyers struggle. The date and place of the convention would, however, be announced later, Ahsan said, adding that with a view to mobilise the masses to participate in the long march, the NCC shall form committees to liaison with the civil society, students and political parties that share their goals.
He said that the lawyers meeting also deplored the government for not honouring its promises for the reinstatement of the deposed CJP and giving confirmation to steps taken by the previous regime under the November 3 Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) by reappointing deposed judges through fresh oaths.
Ahsan said that the lawyers still stood by their commitment and were starting the long march to “save the country.” Their objectives are still relevant today and will be continued till the independence of the judiciary and the restoration of rule of law, he said, adding that the deposed CJP had dedicated the awards that he received during his US visit to the people of Pakistan in general, and the legal fraternity in particular.
The lawyers’ leaders also condemned the government’s attempts to throttle the lawyers’ movement by threatening the disbarment of Bar leaders and activists engaged in the struggle. They resolved to defend them before every appropriate forum.
They also congratulated the lawyers’ leaders who were elected as office-bearers from different bar associations and said that the lawyers would continue their struggle until its logical outcome.