ISLAMABAD, May 5: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry proceeded towards Lahore on Saturday amid protests clashes between his supporters and law enforcers at stopovers on the way to his destination.
A large number of lawyers and opposition leaders and activists accorded a warm welcome to the chief justice at district courts in Rawalpindi, Rawat and Gujar Khan.
Mr Chaudhry’s caravan comprising a large number of vehicles left for Lahore via G.T. Road at 9:15am.
First the caravan reached the District Courts Rawalpindi where lawyers and political workers showered the chief justice’s vehicle with petals and chanted slogans in his favour and against the government and President Pervez Musharraf.
Those who received him included Lahore High Court Bar President Sardar Asmatullah, Rawalpindi District Bar President Sardar Ismail, Haji Masood Akhtar, MNA Zamurad Khan, MPA Amir Fida Paracha and others political workers.
In Rawat, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers Asad Pervez, Chaudhry Saleem and others welcomed the chief justice.
Hundreds of lawyers and political workers also went to Mandra and Gujar Khan to accord a rousing welcome to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, reports Dawn’s correspondent in Chakwal.
The lawyers were led by Punjab Bar Council member Hassan Raza Pasha and Chakwal District Bar President Haroon Irshad Janjua.
The local administration blocked all roads leading to Mandra and Gujar Khan by deploying heavy contingents of police but the lawyers and political workers took alternative routes to reach their destinations.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers were led by former MPA Chaudhry Liaquat Ali Khan.
Due to the absence of lawyers, court work in Chakwal, Talagang and Choa Saiden Shah remained dull. The lawyers had also boycotted the proceedings for an hour.
Two lawyers participated in a hunger strike camp of the Chakwal bar that entered into its 56th day.
The protesters vowed that they would continue their struggle till the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Meanwhile, four political activists detained on Friday were shifted to Dera Ghazi Khan jail for 30 days under 3 MPO on Saturday.
Those arrested were identified as MMA Chakwal President Sahibzada Abdul Qadoos Naqshbandi, Qari Noor Alam, Mohammad Khan Tatral and Chaudhry Naveed Akhter Kahoot.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was accorded a warm welcome in Mandra, Gujar Khan, Sohawa, Dina and Jhelum, by the lawyers, political activists and the masses who had come from different areas of the Punjab to have a glimpse of the chief justice, Dawn’s correspondent in Gujar Khan reported.
In Mandra, lawyers from Chakwal and Talagang had established their reception camp on the G.T. Road where members of the Chakwal Bar Association remained lined up for hours and continued chanting anti-Musharraf slogans to keep the environment charged.
At around 11am, the chief justice flanked by Aitzaz Ahsan and MNA Zamurad Khan reached Mandra.
PML-N leader Chaudhry Mohammad Riaz, PPP secretary-general MNA Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, MPA Raja Tariq Kiani, Chaudhry Abidur Rehman of MMA and other leaders had arranged their reception camps in Gujar Khan city.
The Gujar Khan Bar Association had also set up a camp in front of the DSP office where the anti-government slogans were played continuously on loudspeakers.
The chief justice’s procession after one-hour stay in Gujar Khan resumed the journey towards Jhelum. At Sohawa town, the local businessmen closed their shops and gathered by the road. Raja Awais Khalid, a PML-N leader, had organised a reception in Sohawa.
At Dina, residents of villages located along the G.T. Road were standing along the dual carriageway and they forced the caravan to have short stopovers at each village.
As Mr Chaudhry entered Jhelum city, the workers of a cigarette factory blocked the road and started chanting slogans in his favour.
In Jhelum city, the lawyers, locals and political activists swarmed the road. Raja Asad, a PML-N leader, welcomed the procession while the local administration used batons to control the mob and smashed the reception camps prior to the arrival of Iftikhar Chaudhry.
According to some reports, the crowd was also lightly shelled with tear gas to disperse them and some of the political activists were also arrested to “scare” the masses.
However, activists of PML-N, MMA and PPP continued to block the road for more than two hours after which the chief justice proceeded towards Sarai Alamgir.