LAHORE, Jan 15: Adamantly pursuing their demand for the restoration of deposed judges, lawyers resumed their weekly protest after two weeks of a winter vacation break at courts and Muharram.
President Asif Ali Zardari turned out to be the main target of the protest as PML-N workers and lawyers chanted incessant slogans against him during their march on The Mall.
Earlier, in a pre-rally meeting of the general house of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Tehrik-i-Istaqlal Chairman Asghar Khan criticised Zardari for stating he knew Benazir Bhutto’s killers but could not make it public.
On The Mall, hundreds of lawyers marched towards Charing Cross along with workers of political parties and activists of different organisations. PML-N, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, Jamaat-i-Islami, Khaksar Tehrik workers and members of the group called the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan were present on the occasion.
Lawyers under the banner of the Lahore Bar Association (LBA), which recently went to polls revolving around the campaign for the deposed judges, outnumbered their colleagues from the Lahore High Court Bar Association. The increased presence of PML-N workers reflected the party’s stance against the judges who swore allegiance to the PCO in the backdrop of it heightened rivalry with the PPP.
Lawyers also carried with them a serpentine banner, bearing signatures of lawyers and others in the favour of the campaign for the restoration of deposed judges.
Hall Road traders showered rose petals on the protesters and distributed sweets to celebrate the election of the new LBA office-bearers.
When the rally reached the Charing Cross in front of the Punjab Assembly, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan thanked protesters and vowed to keep up the campaign till the restoration of deposed judges.
Earlier, addressing the LHCBA meeting, Asghar Khan said he could not prove a success in politics because he had principles and refused to follow in the footsteps of traditional politicians. He hoped the lawyers’ movement, which was unique in its nature, would bear fruit and succeed in removing tyranny and injustice from the country.
He said the government did not seem inclined to restore the judges because it could not work with an honest judiciary. Even if the government did restore the judges, it would either do it unwillingly or under pressure, he added. He said the lawyers should demand the restoration of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry along with fresh elections. “Record shows that only 30 per cent of the votes were cast in favour of the PPP,” he said.
He said he was averse to the army intervention in civilian affairs but feared another coup if the politicians did not mend their ways. He added there was no point in asking the United Nations to probe the killing of Benazir Bhutto.
He said the PPP and President Zardari should take steps to unmask the BB’s killers. He said he was blamed for writing a letter to the army, which, he added, was not a crime at all.
He said army officers should refuse to accept illegal orders of their superiors. “I had turned down an order of a British Major General because it was not in accordance with the law,” he said.