Thousands of lawyers and activists are travelling over 600 miles from Karachi to Islamabad to demand the return of judges ousted from the Supreme Court by President Musharraf. The trip was planned to echo Ghandi's "long marches" across the country. Except that this one's going by car...
The envoy set off from Pakistan's economic capital, Karachi, on Monday, and is expected to reach Islamabad tomorrow. It was launched by a group of lawyers asking for the return of the former president of the Supreme Court, Muhammad Chaudhry, along with 45 other judges who were thrown out when Musharraf declared a state of emergency last November. The travelling lawyers were quickly joined by thousands of political activists and are currently crossing the country by car, stopping at major cities along the way. Today they're in the central city of Multan. One of our Observers in Pakistan is collecting personal accounts and photos sent to him by demonstrators and posting them on a blog set up for the occasion.
"All we're asking for is for the judges to be returned"
Awab Alvi is a dentist in Karachi. He runs the blog Teeth Maestro and is one of the organisers behind the "long march".There were six or seven thousand of us at the start of the march, and by the time we get to the capital we could have gathered up to 50,000 people. All we're asking for is for the judges to be returned. It's a peaceful protest but I expect riots will break out in Islamabad because the police have already set up barricades to stop protestors from getting to the parliament and the Supreme Court.
I set up a special site to follow the march as it happened. The protestors are sending me info and photos using their mobiles. I even created an email address that works on all Pakistani phones. You can put the address directly where the number usually goes and the message comes straight to my inbox. I think this will be particularly useful when things start hotting up."
Starting point of the "long march" in Karachi
9 June in Karachi. Photos taken with a mobile phone by Awab Alvi.
9 June in Karachi. Photos: Ayesha.