Journey for an Incomplete Solution
By Zeeshan Bakhsh
Long March started on 9th June 2008 and ended on 14th June 2008. The purpose of this march was to push the government to restore the judiciary and promote democracy. There are many missing persons in Pakistan as well. These are those people who have been handed over to the American government by the Paksitani Government. Their families and loved ones have no idea where they are and what is being done with them. Since this is a matter of foreign policy and relations there is no way of filing a complaint of a missing persons report for these people.
Pakistanâ€™s deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry gestures before the start of a cross-country rally by lawyers and political activists in Multan June 11, 2008. Authorities stepped up security in the Pakistani capital on Wednesday as lawyers opposed to President Pervez Musharraf prepared to begin a cross-country rally to press for the restoration of judges he fired.
The people of Pakistan are looking for justice and fair play. This march was also to promote that aspect which has been ignored for decades. This was the people raising their voice against dictatorship and force governing over the nation. People were looking to come out and find solutions for their problems which they are facing every day in Pakistan. The leaders and organizers of the march had assured the public that all of their complaints will be heard and something positive will come out of this. So, to make this a success people came out of their homes all over Pakistan and participated with full strength.
Major participants of the event were the Lawyers, the public, ex-servicemen, and political parties such as, PML-N which is a part of the coalition government, Jamat-e-Islami, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the relatives of missing persons, students of Laal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa, students from other colleges and universities, students unions included, Islami Jamiat Talba, Pasbaan, and SAC (Student Action Committee).
The caravanâ€™s official route was from Sakhr to Islamabad. However many different groups joined them from different places. From Karachi a caravan joined in Sakhr under the leadership of Munir-e-Malik who is the former president of the Supreme Court Bar. This caravan started from Mizar-e-Qauid to reach the rest of the group in Sakhr. A caravan which was lead by the amir of JI, Qazi Hussain Ahmad started at Peshawar and directly reached Islamabad to join the rest of the crown there.Another caravan started from Quetta under the lead of Ali Ahmad Kurd who is a lawyer. These met with the original caravan in Sakhr and they continued together towards their destination. A stop over was made in Multan where Chief Justice Iftikhar Ali Chaudhry addressed the crowd. Along with him prominent figures such as Aitazaz Ahsan and Javed Hashmi also made speeches. From Multan through Sahiwal the caravan reached Lahore. The crowd together left from the Lahore High Court Bar and was sead off by J.I and PIT. From their stop was made at Minar-e-Pakistan where Nawaz Sharif, Aitazaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmad Kurd, and Javed Hashmi made speeches.
On June 14th the convey reached Islamabad. According to the AFP (Associated French Press) the strength of the people was about 200,000 to 300,000. The locals from the twin cities (Islamabad and Rawalpindi) showed their opinion by being present at the location in great numbers. Families and came out in herds to join the march. The major ruling party which is Pakistan Peopleâ€™s Party did not join the long march. They did however provide for food and water for the participants of the march at Islamabad.
Other parties that did not participate in this march included JUI Fazlul Rahman group. ANP (Awami National Party) which is the ruling party of NWFP and MQM from the Sindh side.
During this march was going on it was making an effect on other areas of life such as the media; GEO television was asked to stop its transmission from Dubai on the basis that it is â€œspreading instabilityâ€ in the country through its programming. Also two talk shows of the same channel, Capital Talk hosted by Hamid Mir and Mayray Mutabik hosted by Dr. Shahid Masood, were banned and still have not been permitted to air as of today.
What all of this boils down to is what was achieved from this long drawn out program? All the speeches made the same demands that had been made before at different occasions. So, how is this any different? What did the nation gain from this journey? When people were asked to dismiss at the end by Aitazaz Ahsan people were in such dismay that they started chanting even against him. They realized at that time that this was it. Nothing more would be done and it would go down as another failed attempt by the public of Pakistan to take control of the situation. The question arises by looking at all the facts that did the political parties use this to promote their own selves and the public just got dragged in the middle? Was it a genuine attempt for democracy and freedom or not? If it was a genuine attempt why werenâ€™t any solid demands brought to the forefront? Why wasnâ€™t any government official pushed to make some kind of a decision or bring some change by the end of the march?
It seems it started as a show put together in a very elaborate manner and it ended with a very anti climactic ending.