Thursday, March 12, 2009

Notes on the First Day of the Long March

I've had a long day and don't have the energy to write up a detailed piece on the Long March. Instead, here are some of the notes I jotted down throughout the day.

- The lawyers were, on the whole, very peaceful and well-behaved. I thought it was quite smart of them to arrive at the High Court in pairs or groups of three to bypass Section 144. Things got a bit testy once they had congregated at the court, as the police baton-charged them.

- The Jamaat-e-Islami were not interested in peace. Its activists arrived together and was seeking a confrontation with the police.

- A lot of the lawyers and political activists were arrested under the Maintainence of Public Order law rather than Section 144. The latter is a bailable offence while the former isn't.

- The scene at Toll Plaza was insane. To resist arrest the lawyers locked themselves in their cars. That wasn't close to an insurmountable hurdle for the police.

- There were a few burning cars. No more than a dozen. Unsure who was responsible for those.

- Good think I didn't follow Huma Imtiaz's Long March Drinking Game. My tolerance for alcohol has its limits.

- For television coverage of the Long March, I recommend Geo's hilariously-named 'March Room'. One person said, (I swear I am not making this up) "How funny that the Long March is in March."


Ahsan said...

That's the "bus to road peh chalti hai" of political jokes.

Peace said...

well for the sake of a comment,

"WTF is happening there"?.

Now for the sake of being a genuine Indian,

"Dont get those Jamaat-e-Islami guys anywhere near your nukes or else before you know all the countries including your friends and your worst enemies , India(?) and Israel will be nuking every corner of you:))".

Now for the sake of being a political observer,

"This for sure is going to give your army another excuse...."

I am done now and am going for my cup of green tea with a piece of mint leaf:))

AKS said...

Bubs, a marching colleague swears that there was little trouble at toll plaza, even after Rassed Rizvi and Muneer Malik were arrested. She's of the opinion that trouble must've started a fair bit later, perhaps once the Jamaatis and members of ANP (okay, so she actually said pathans from the area) joined in.

AKS said...

I briefly checked the news after some hours and learnt from Geo's news ticker that Schools will be closed in Islamabad for a week. Geo was also covering the various reports taking place in Punjab. BBC, CNN, even FOX News, have been reporting on the 'political turmoil in Pakistan.'

The above is in stark contrast to the situation in Karachi i.e. as normal a day as you're going to get. This situation epitomizes the discord that exists between the different regions of Pakistan.

This also makes me wonder, and frightens me, of the day when PML(N) gains power sans the PPP and MQM. Can anybody seriously doubt that the roles then will be reversed - Karachi in turmoil, Lahoris wondering what the fuss is all about and then continue eating Nehari.


On a different note, the new found love between the lawyers movement and elements from the Right sickens me. Once the deed is done, the lawyers are going to be gazzumped by the Right. Do they have no shame sharing the stage with the likes of Qazi Hussain (just loves the British born penal code) and the Shariff brothers (the Amir-ul-Momineen isn't above the law, he just helps decide what is legal)? Asma Jehangir obviously doesn't - by the way, what the hell is she doing in Switzerland? I saw her being interviewed from there yesterday.

Anonymous said...

From Pakistan's point of view,the Long March sounds ominous.It seems somehow stage managed and phoney.Zardari is already on the run. The Generals are getting restless. Nawaz Sharif looks almost ready to assume control. No matter what Sharif and Army Generals claim democracy looks doomed in Pakistan.

From India's point of view, this is not a great political development.Military rule in Pakistan is going to escalate the standoff between India and Pakistan.We don't want another Kargil.

From South Asia point of view, It is not looking good at all. Actually, one can see instability in every nook and corner.Anarchy appears to be round the corner.The recent mutiny in Bangladesh has made Begum equally insecure. Sri Lanka is permanently on the boil. China is already performing the Dragon Dance in Tibet.

What more do we need in South Asia?

Rabia said...

AKS, great comment. I agree with almost everything you said. The Punjabi middle class has really displayed its complete lack of willingness to cooperate with the rest of the country and its inability to look beyond its own interests even to the point of people like Asma Jehangir allying themselves without a second thought to the most anti-democratic forces in the country.

Ahsan said...

Haan, well put AKS. On the Karachi/Punjab peace/turmoil question, it's not a hypothetical. We only have to think of Nawaz Sharif's first tenure as PM. It was exactly as you laid it out.

Anonymous said...

Just a side question, any chance Five Rupees joining the Twitter?

Ahsan said...


No chance.

AKS said...

Geo TV has itself conveniently become the biggest news story of the current cycle. As I watch the channel it claims that it has been removed from cable services across the country.

I wonder why my cable wala hasn't taken it off, especially as the particular cable service is run by MQM supporters?

bubs said...

AKS: Geo has been taken off the air in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and some other parts of the Punjab. Also, the lawyers were barely causing any trouble at Toll Plaza. It was just surreal seeing them locked in their cars.

Anon259: My average post is less than 140 words so I see no need to Twitter.

Anon259 said...


How about sorting out the links on this site? I feel like I'm on some Chinese with the links, even friggin' internal links, opening in new tabs. Please?

Ahsan said...


What do you mean when you say "sorting out the links"? I thought opening the links in new tabs would make it easier for readers. What did you have in mind? We're always open to suggestions.

Anon259 said...

I can understand why external links would open in new tabs/windows but I really don't get why links within the Five Rupees blog should open in a new tab. Right now, I have three tabs open just to reply to this post. THREE! It doesn't make it easy, it's just annoying. This is the only site I visit regularly where ALL links open in new tabs/windows. Seriously, can't the decision as to when an internal link opens in a new tab/window be left to the reader?