The battle of Lahore
The battle for the restoration of Judiciary fought at the heart of Pakistan, Lahore, by the people of Pakistan against the tyrant oppressors is over. People of Pakistan have returned home victorious. Despite all possible ways adopted by Zardari Incorporation to suppress the movement of the people, Lahoris have said it loud and clear that they will stand for principles breaking all the barriers of fear.
long march for restoration of Judiciary seemed to be on the brink of failure when the oppressors cracked down on the participants all across the country. When the caravans started leaving on 12th of March from Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar and Multan, all exit points of Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan were sealed not allowing the participants to leave their respective cities. Similarly all entry points to Lahore were blocked to make sure 12 June 2008 is not repeated. The Governor Punjab announced Basant on the very day the long march was to enter Lahore and leave for Islamabad. At such a time, all hopes were set at zinda dilaan-e-Lahore, to stand for justice, to stand for principles, to break all barriers of fear and take it to the streets and become a voice of the people of Pakistan held back by force to reach the hotspot of the movement – Lahore, for marching to the capital.
Lahoris did justice to the hopes set at them and despite serious crackdown by the police, reached in huge numbers at the Mall Road opposite Lahore High Court despite the fact that all entry points to the Mall Road were blocked.
It was around 10 AM in the morning when I had to roam around the Mall to find a way to reach the High Court but all possible entry points were sealed by huge containers. The cops even did not allow to enter anyone walking toward the Mall. I could see around a couple thousand activists already at the GPO chowk.
All of a sudden, Police started tear gas shelling at the crowd. This is where the cops went wrong and provided a chance for the thousands waiting out for an opportunity to enter the Mall. The crowd started reacting by throwing stones at the cops which made them leave their positions and allowed many like me to break the barrier and enter the Mall. For next two hours, the GPO chowk literally presented the view of a battle ground. The cops fired nothing less than a thousand tear gas shells – eyes closed and fire it wherever it goes. The protesters in small groups hid at various points at GPO chok and attacked the cops whenever they get a chance. This strategy made the cops lose the battle in less than half an hour. They had more than a dozen groups of protesters attacking them with stones from various points around the GPO chowk and they had no weapon to control them other than the tear gas shells, which didn’t help them much.
I can recall people vomiting and fainting as a result of heavy shelling of tear gas but the cops were only able to get hold of less than a dozen protesters. In their anxiety, they started baton charging the media guys and those passing through Mall (by now, Mall was an open-highway, the cops had lost half the battle). It was around 1 PM that four groups of protesters came out of their hiding simultaneously and ran to attack the cops who were more than a couple hundred. The cops started taking steps backward, firing tear gas shells. Seeing a roaring crowd of a couple hundred going to attack the cops, the huge crowd inside the LHC building marched out as well. The cops could not stand the crowd and rushed back to the streets in Anarkali.
For the next hour and a half, I could not see any of the policemen. The people had captured the Mall and were guarding its entry points victoriously. People started pouring in all the time and by 2 PM the crowd had grown to more than 10,000.
It was at this point that the DCO, Lahore arrived at the scene. A huge crowd rushed to his vehicle as if they will trash it into pieces. The man came out of the vehicle, took off his belt and told the crowd, “I am with you.” The Mall was reverberated with the slogans of “Punjab Police Zindabaad” Soon after this, news of resignation of Deputy Attorney General and other police officers cheered the crowd. Police vehicles presented the view of local transport when the protesters hosted Pro-Judiciary flags/posters on them and get on their roof-tops !
Nawaz Sharif’s rally from Model town reached the LHC breaking all the barriers set by Police on the way around 5 PM. Police acted silent spectator to the thousands marching to the LHC, setting aside everything that came their way. The crowd at LHC had increased to around 40K when parts of this rally reached there and the others left with Nawaz Sharif towards Islamabad. It was past mid night, when the main procession had reached Gujrawala that the news of PM’s address to the nation broke out. The caravan waited for the speech there and the early morning of 17th of March 2009 brought the news of victory of the people of Pakistan. The PM announced restoration of the Judiciary in his much awaited address to the nation at 5:45 AM.
sadaa aa rahee hay meray dil se pay-ham
kay hoga har ik dushman-e-jaan ka sar kham !
Every Pakistan who has been a part of this movement in anyway needs to be applauded for keeping the two-year long movement, consistent and largely peaceful. The fact that it was based on the defense of basic tenet of democracy: a constitutional office holder must not be ousted in an unconstitutional manner, is indeed a success for democracy and institutions in Pakistan.
With this victory of the people, there is still a long way to go but a precedent has been set that we, the people are the rightful masters of this land and its resources and that we seek justice, we will stand for principles until success. More importantly, this will give a hope to the people that activism works . Lets rejoice with the fact that the most important change is a change in perception.
Welcome to the new Pakistan which has learnt to resist tyranny, opression and injustice.