Thousands of protesters gathered in Islamabad yesterday to demand the reinstatement of judges deposed by President Musharraf under emergency rule last year.
A highly charged crowd gathered in the Pakistan capital, including lawyers who thronged the main parade ground in front of the Parliament in sweltering heat chanting: “Go Musharraf, go.” The protesters cautioned the Government against any further delay in ousting the embattled leader and reversing his decision.
The rally, on the final leg of the “long march”, arrived in Islamabad late in the evening, in several hundred vehicles carrying lawyers and political activists holding party flags. The march began this week in the central city of Multan. Hundreds of retired army officers and soldiers also joined the march calling for Mr Musharraf to be tried for sedition.
“Parliament must now respect the sentiments of people. The people have spoken and they want the restoration of the judges,” said Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who led the rally. “We will continue our long marches until the judges are restored,” Mr Ahsan added.
Hundreds of riot police used barbed wire to block the main access road to Mr Musharraf’s residence to stop protesters marching on it. Soldiers with machineguns manned sandbagged bunkers in a nearby park. Security forces also cordoned off Parliament, the Supreme Court and a compound for foreign embassies.
The protesters said they would stay in the capital until the Government announced the restoration of judges.