LAHORE, June 12: Seeing off participants of the lawyers’ long march from Lahore, PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif said President Pervez Musharraf could not escape accountability by fleeing the country.

Speaking at a gathering of lawyers and political activists at the Ravi Chowk on Thursday, he praised the courage shown by the deposed judges in saying “no to a dictator”.

Praising the valour of the deposed judges, he said “the dictator is likely to flee the country but we’ll foil it”.

He asked workers of his party raising anti-Musharraf slogans not to waste their energy for Musharraf was already on his way out.

Led by Supreme Court Bar President Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmad Kurd and Hamid Khan, participants of the long march riding a caravan of buses, wagons and cars left for Gujranwala in the evening through the Grand Trunk Road. They took almost three hours to reach Ravi Chowk from the Lahore High Court, a distance of just a couple of kilometres.

The caravan is scheduled to reach Islamabad on Friday to “lay siege to the Parliament House” to force the government to reinstate the judges deposed by Mr Musharraf on Nov 3. Activists of PML-N, Jamaat-i-Islami, Tehrik-i-Insaaf, Labour Party, Khaksar Tehrik and a couple of civil society organisations, led by Javed Hashmi, Liaqat Baloch, Khwaja Saad Raiq and Raja Ashfaq Sarwsar, accompanied the lawyers.

Labour Party’s Farooq Tariq and his colleagues were manhandled by police when their procession joined the main caravan at Ravi Chowk, where some portraits had been erected showing President Musharraf with a chain around his neck.

In his speech, Mr Aitzaz objected to presence of these portraits and sought their removal. He said Justice Iftikhar and other judges would do justice with the president after their reinstatment.

Mr Nawaz asserted that if President Musharraf was not brought to book, future adventurers could not be deterred”.

He warned that if the masses did not take a decisive stance on independence of judiciary then none would be able to protect the solidarity of the country.

Condemning the recent US attack in Mohmand Agency, Mr Nawaz regretted that policies of President Musharraf had weakened the country to an extent that foreign troops were freely killing civilians as well as soldiers.

There was a heavy police deployment around the venue as police had taken positions on all nearby buildings, including the Lady Wellingdon Hospital, in front of which a stage had been prepared.

No one except journalists and senior party workers were allowed to go near the podium and they too were made to walk through double security gates as the road on the hospital side had been closed to traffic from Ravi Chowk and Taxali Gate by erecting barriers.

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