Tag Archives: lawyers

Policing the Press -Long March Day 2

Remember this? In a reprisal of Musharraf’s policies during Emergency Rule in 2007, Pres. Zardari has banned the largest news channel, GeoTV from major sections of Pakistan including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Multan. Following the ban, PPP Information Minister Sherry Rehman resigned from her government post.

Rehman had held a “a series of heated arguments” with other officials in the PPP, according to Dawn, but after failing to convince them against the ban, she resigned in protest.

A prominent member of the PPP, Rehman’s decision signals splits inside the PPP about how to tackle a vigorous press that has been openly critical of the government’s policies towards the Long March.

In fact, activists and politicians have relied on it during the recent crackdown. When police came to arrest lawyers’ leader Athar Minallah, he turned to the press for help. From Time:

“I locked myself in the car, and the police didn’t know how to get me,” he said. “So I called the television cameras who were only two minutes away. I began giving live interviews from the car, addressing the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, directly. After a while, Mr. Malik came down himself and shouted the police officers away.”

There may be institutional issues at several levels in Pakistan, but the press is working. “The media,” Open Society Institute’s Fawzia Naqvi told us, “has become the most trusted institution in Pakistan.” The statement was borne out in interviews with refugees from the NWFP and Fata who thanked the press for covering the dismal situation in their hometowns and exposing the damage caused by the US drone attacks, the Pakistani military and the Taliban.

Activists over at the popular listserve, Emergency List, have asked that people thank Rehman for her principled stance.  You can email her at:

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad (Long) March?

Long March Primer -for those who want to know more than ‘all the news that’s fit to print.’

An email update by a protester on the ground in Khi:

it was a very up-and-down day. when people set out from the high court (felt brilliant!), we thought the police would respond immediately. they didn’t, but had  obviously made a plan to corner the marchers outside of the city…. the marchers reached there much later in the evening–it was slow because the bus drivers that were supposed to take people had been warned against it by the police, so new arrangements were made–when they finally did reach, after much nare-bazi, they were prevented from going further than the toll plaza….[where arrests were made].

people have been going thaana [police station] to thaana to release ppl from police custody. many have been released, but march seems to have been stopped for now, as best as i can tell. there were rumors that the buses were going to be burnt! though i don’t think that happened.

anyway — the feeling on the ground was brilliant, very fearless….

Karachi Police arrested  nearly 200 people. They were later released on Rs 5,ooo each after the local magistrate issued an order, according to the News. Dawn confirms that scuffles broke outside of Sindh High Court where 35 people were arrested including the Vice President of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Party. Police beat protesters with batons and sticks, reports BBC. You can find the BBC’s video here. Approximately 10 prison vans were on hand at a main exit point in Karachi for arrests. An SMS update by Anonymous from Karachi:

Lawyers lock thenselves in their cars at the Toll Palaza Karachi and resisting arrests.

Protesters have been wending their way to Islamabad for the main rally in small groups.

OF NOTE:

1. Aitzaz Ahsan defies Section 144 and leads a rally on Mall Road, Lahore. A key leader of the lawyers’ movement and member of the PPP, Ahsan has been suspended from the CEC of the PPP for violating party discipline. Of PPP supporters of the Long March, he told Dawn blog:

”Many PPP supporters are with us because they know that Benazir [Bhutto] had promised them that the judiciary would be restored,” he says, adding ”it is not true that the lawyers’ movement does not have massive public support…. People are just waiting for the right opportunity to come out on the streets.”

2. In Lahore, police tortured a cameraman and seized his camera as he was filming lawyers arrests, GeoTV reports.

Head of Supreme Court Bar Association, Ahmad Ali Kurd led a march from Quetta which was stopped at Jacobabad. An SMS:

We have surrounded ali ahmad kurd. To govt authorities: if u have the courage come arrest him.

But protesters remained spirited. One texted:

Jacobabad we are going to have a sit-in here. We are not going down that easily.

TV MOMENTS

An emotional moment: human rights activists Tahira Abdullah broke into tears as she took on the PPP’s Minister of Information, Sherry Rehman. If you don’t speak Urdu, no worries here; much of the exchange is in English:


Nawaz Sharif on Live with Talat: PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif who’s party is supporting the Long March appeared for a hard-hitting interview on the news show of one of the top journalists in Pakistan, Talat Hussain. The exchange was interesting. The video will be available here. Hussain asked Sharif why he was taking on the PPP so directly rather than waiting till next elections.  He also questioned whether the Long March was a national movement or one that belongs prominently to the province of Punjab. Sharif’s responded by saying that most Pakistanis support the march and that the PML-N has been winning by getting votes in all provinces.

It may also be added that several of the top lawyers movement leaders are not from Punjab, but Sindh.


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The Long March -Day 1

From an activist on the ground in Khi (Karachi):

He writes in an email:

political activists, and civil society members defied section 144 to launch the long march to islamabad.

they cannot stop us.

Here are his videos:

Leaving the Sindh High Court, Karachi:

Note the Rangers standing by and the crowd walk through the barricades past the police (@ :20 sec). They don’t seem to making much of an effort to enforce the ban on gatherings in Khi. This, despite a statement by senior-officer-in -charge Wasim Ahmad who said according to GeoTV:

Talking to media, CCPO Karachi said police force is working under specific procedure. Anyone who violates section 144 would be punished and no one is allowed to disturb law and order.

Marching through Saddar Town in Karachi:

Watch the size of the crowd (and it’s just begun!) and listen to the chant:

Jeena ho ga, marna ho ga!

Dharna ho ga, dharna ho ga!

Rough Translation: Life or death, the dharna (sit-in) will happen!

Protesters are marching towards the capital Islamabad. Activists from Karachi and Quetta are expected to arrive  in Lahore on the 14th, and converge on the capital by March 16th for a dharna (sit-in).

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