Dawn.com’s Musadiq Sanwal reports live from Lahore as the second lawyers’ Long March picks up momentum. While lawyers and political activists of the PML-N march on, he will have updates from the protests, the word on the street, and stories from the sidelines. Return to The Dawn Blog for live updates, feature stories, and multimedia specials.
Update at 22:11PST: From KARACHI
Leaders of the Lawyers’ movement including Munir A. Malik have been released from police custody.
JUI leaders including Professor Ghafoor and Hussain Mehrani have also been released by the authorities.
Update at 18:17 PST: From KARACHI
Eyewitnesses say that dozens of people have been arrested at Karachi toll plaza with some putting the figure as high as 100. Police have confiscated the keys of buses and vehicles of the participants, leaving many of them stranded in the corner of the city.
Eyewitnesses add that police have apprehended those seen raising slogans and are now raiding petrol pumps and other sites where people took shelter after the baton charge. Police resorted to the baton charge when the long march participants refused to disperse. Several lawyers and political activists reportedly suffered injuries in the incident.
Labour Party’s provincial general secretary Shehla, Barrister Salahuddin and advocate Samina Noman are among those latest to be held by the police in the on going crackdown at the toll plaza.
Update at 17:15 PST: FROM KARACHI
Prominent leaders of the lawyers’ movement - Munir A. Malik and Rasheed Rizvi – have been detained along with several other lawyers and political activists at the Karachi Toll Plaza.
Protestors leaving Karachi for Islamabad (via Hyderabad) have been stopped at Karachi Toll Plaza. According to reports on private news channels, the keys of buses and cars have been confiscated by police. However, long march participants report that they have not seen the removal of car keys by police forces.
According to Dawn.com’s Salman Siddiqui, the hold up at the toll plaza will not affect participation in the Long March as many Karachi-based lawyers and activists were planning to accompany the rally until Hyderabad, but return to Karachi soon thereafter to catch flights to Lahore.
Meanwhile, unknown people have set fire to four trucks in Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area, according to the city fire department.
Updated at 16:40 PST:
As calls for the Long March to Islamabad continue, the Punjab Inspector General meets with the top Lahore High Court Justice to discuss the security situation.
Updated at 16:00 PST: FROM KARACHI
According to Dawn.com’s reporter Salman Siddiqui in Karachi, a caravan of around 2000 protestors headed to Islamabad from Karachi in a large procession of cars and buses on Thursday. The charged protesters, which included lawyers and political activists of the Labour Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and PML-N, were seen raising pro-judiciary and pro-Nawaz slogans along the way from the Qauid-e-Azam mausoleum on M.A. Jinnah road.
As the rally progressed through the heart of the city, police were not seen hindering the protestors. In fact, arrangements had been made for the smooth flow of the rally as other traffic was diverted to alternate routes. Interestingly, the protesters even managed to stage a sit-in in the middle of the main road in front of Islamia College and the Dawood College of Engineering. Even though Section 144 is in place, policemen in full riot gear preferred to stand on the sidelines rather than take action against the long marchers.
Lawyer Ishaq was part of a group of around 200 advocates who were traveling in buses inscribed with various pro-judiciary banners and flags. ‘We are not afraid of arrests. Please recall that some of our colleagues have been burnt alive, while others have been showered with bullets in the past. But, even then, we didn’t step back from our movement.’
The Karachi convoy is being led by veterans of the lawyers’ movement, including former Supreme Court Bar Association president Munir A. Malik and Sindh High Court Bar Association President Rasheed A. Rizvi.
Students are also participating in the movement.
Kashif was one student among many who participated in the sit-in. He said that although he won’t be able to go to all the way to Islamabad owing to university-related commitments, he would support the lawyers’ rally as much as he could. ‘There maybe political motives behind the movement, but despite that I think it’s very important for our country that the judiciary is made truly independent.’
Strong contingents of police and Rangers personnel were visible throughout the route of the procession. Earlier in the day, police arrested around three dozen lawyers when they started to head out from the Karachi Bar and Malir Bar Associations in the city.
Updated at 15:30 PST:
Nawaz Sharif has alleged that the government is planning to assassinate him. However, PPP and presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar has denied Sharif’s allegations. Meanwhile, rifts widen amongst PPP ranks as PPP leaders Safdar Abbas and Naheed Khan announce that they will participate in the Long March.
Updated at 13:34pst:
Larger group is going back towards Lahore High Court and Aewan-e-Adal and people can be seen dispersing. Despite Section 144, no group was stopped from gathering or marching and no arrests were made either.
Updated at 13:20pst:
The rally has reached Charing Cross but all entrances and exits to the Punjab Assembly are heavily barricaded. The clichéd slogans include ‘Go Zardari Go’ and ‘Zardari is a dog!’ It seems as if we are back to the Musharraf days of Lawyers’ protest. Despite Jamaat-i-Islami activists being the most vocal, majority are clean-shaven young lawyers with a noticeable presence of women lawyers too.
Updated at 13:10pst:
Another group of about 500 people has joined the march from the Lahore High Court. Flags belonging to PML-N and Jamaat-i-Islami are now visible and loud chanting can be heard as party-workers yell out slogans.
Updated at 12:52pst:
About 15 minutes ago the march started with about 500 lawyers moving towards the Lahore High Court, however no PML-N workers were seen. Police did not try to stop them and so far it seems like quite a peaceful movement.
Updated at 12:10pst:
Generally the traffic was normal in the city but as soon as we came on to the Mall Road, we noticed that the shops were closed. When we came near Aewan-e-Adal, where the long march is supposed to start from and move towards Lahore high court, police presence became heavier.
The long march was supposed to start at 12pm but it hasn’t started so far. However, it is gathering momentum now. Journalists and hundreds of media personnel are surrounding the area and the traffic is getting quite clogged now. We are still waiting to hear when the march will start though.