Daily Times Reporting
LAHORE: The bigwigs of civil society organisations did not show up at the Allama Iqbal International Airport to receive sacked chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Wednesday.
The organisations that remained active throughout the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the judiciary did not take to the roads contrary to the lawyers’ expectations. Although the activists of Pakistan Labour Party, Khaksar Tehreek and the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) reached the airport carrying placards and set up a welcome camp, their turnout remained quite low compared to what it was the last time Justice Chaudhry had come to Lahore to address the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA).
Several civil activists said that they had not arrived to welcome the sacked CJP because the lawyers’ movement seemed to take a political turn and was being led by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) who aimed at using the movement for their political interests.
Talking to Daily Times, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Asma Jahangir said, “When a movement prolongs, many people supporting it drop off. The HRCP is a part of the long march and it would join the procession, but we don’t go to receive.” When asked if she believed the lawyers’ movement was hijacked by political parties, she replied, “It is an old practice that when a movement starts, many forces get attached with it for their vested interests. Only the lawyers and the civil society do not have any vested interest in the movement and are working for it sincerely.”
Human Rights activist Dr Mehdi Hassan also agreed that political parties were use the movement for their vested interests. He said the APDM parties had become outcasts after they boycotted the general elections and were now trying to return to the political mainstream by using this movement. “These parties are trying to restore themselves,” he said.
Dr Hassan said the civil society organisations supported the lawyers’ movement as a protest against the wrong decision taken by President Pervez Musharraf on November 3, 2007.
Arrangements: Arrangements by traders, lawyers and political parties, particularly Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the JI, to receive the sacked CJP were in full swing on Wednesday, and were quite visible on The Mall.
The PML-N had decorated The Mall with party flags and colourful banners displaying slogans in favour of the sacked CJP. The party had put up banners from Allama Iqbal International Airport to The Mall, and then all the way to the Grand Trunk (GT) Road. The PML-N also set up 15 camps, from the airport to Shahdara, and each had a sound system playing party songs.
The JI and the PTI also displayed a few banners on The Mall and put up banners near the airport and Azadi Chowk.
Nothing big: Only one vehicle displaying the flags of the JI and PTI was seen moving on The Mall, and very few people were seen at the PML-N’s camps till the filing of this report (9pm).
PML-N Punjab Additional Information Secretary Naeem Mir told Daily Times that the party was still making arrangements on the route of the sacked CJP – from the airport to The Mall. He said that the party had earlier made arrangements from Thokar Niaz Baig to Imamia Colony, Shahdara, to welcome the participants of the long march. He said that since the new route was from the airport to the LHCBA, they were still making arrangements to provide the participants juice and water, and to receive the sacked CJP with fireworks. He said that PML-N parliamentarians and 500 workers from every constituency falling on the route would be there to welcome the sacked CJP.
Business as usual: Business activities remained normal and the majority of shops remained open across the city on the arrival of sacked CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
The businessmen put up banners across the city to welcome the sacked CJP. Shops on The Mall, Hall Road, Beadon Road, Panorama Centre, Anarkali, Regal Chowk, Shah Alam Market, Railway Road, and Badami Bagh remained open. A number of shopkeepers said they were in favour of the reinstatement of judges. Muhammad Humayun, an electronics shop owner on Hall Road, said, “God forbid if any untoward situation occurs, I will close my shop. On such days, people avoid visiting shops, but today is different.”
“I know the CJP is coming to our city, but why should that stop me from buying some DVDs,” said Abdul Ahad, a customer.