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Old 04-07-2008, 11:55 PM
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LESSONS OF THE LONG MARCH
By Mohammad Waseem
[This article first appeared in Dawn on June 23, 2008.]
The great show of solidarity with the judiciary from June 10 to 15 ended not with a bang but with a whimper. Nothing can be more offensive to the leaders and organisers of the long march than being blamed for turning back from their commitment to lay siege to the corridors of power till they achieve their objectives. They never promised that. But, scepticism about the efficacy of the whole strategy of the long march has crept into the minds of at least some of the leaders at the top of the movement itself, apart from others from the media, the political class and civil society. The march was a genuine outburst of anger against a series of illegal actions taken by President Musharraf from March 9 till Nov 3, 2007. It was a tribute to the intellectual, organisational and financial commitment of the lawyers? community to the noble cause of the restoration of the judiciary. The march exhibited a superb sense of collective leadership, and a sense of shared responsibility on the part of the leaders and their followers. The picture fitted the frame. But the question is, to what end? This has been answered in multiple ways by people from within and outside the march. The leadership replied on a positive note; it believes that the objective of building pressure on the powers that be on the judges issue has been achieved. But, some lawyers, many journalists and a large number of participants from the civil society interpret it as a lost opportunity. In hindsight, one finds two things missing in the whole spectacle: firstly, there was no strategy to achieve the goal of putting the judges back in the courts in the form of either a sit-in or a blockade, or lobbying as a pressure group or conducting negotiations. Second, there was no policy on the target of the long march, whether it was the President House or Parliament House or Army House. In terms of strategy, the black coats? movement failed to devise a plan beyond a show of street power. No sit-in was on the agenda, possibly because it would have been difficult to sustain it after a while in terms of numbers, momentum and newsworthiness. To lay siege needed a commitment of a much-higher order, such as in the case of Shia activism in 1980. In the weeks and months before the march, the leaders of the movement had consistently lobbied but failed to elicit a favourable response from the government. Similarly, no elaborate preparations were made to enter serious negotiations with the PPP leadership. In the absence of a strategy, it boiled down to a shot in the dark with a hope that sheer numbers on the street would deliver. In the light of a long delay in the restoration of judges, protagonists of the cause wanted to put their entire weight behind the long march to achieve their objective. Others, especially from the media and political parties, cautioned the lawyers against measures that could weaken parliament and harm democracy. The leadership seemed to take two steps forward and one step back. Who was the target of the long march? President Musharraf did it all. But, he was already relegated to a secondary role in the power structure. He could not bring the judges back to their positions even if, in theory, he wanted to do so. Why was parliament projected to be the target? Was a new law to be passed or a new amendment sought? It was amazingly na?ve to target the parliament. In the end, even the parliament was not really targeted, unless gathering in the parade ground can be construed to mean that. Prime Minister Gilani was conspicuous by his absence from the political scene altogether. It was a tacit recognition of the fact that the chief executive did not carry authority of his office with him. He was neither a part of the controversy nor the target of public anger. The lawyers? leadership comprehensively missed out on delineating the target of their great show of discipline, commitment and solidarity. In the first phase, the movement upheld what was essentially a legal cause. The case in the Supreme Judicial Council, later Supreme Court, against rendering the chief justice non-functional remained a constant point of reference in the movement. Lawyers were able to make a common cause with the civil society, the media and to some extent the political community. In the second phase after the emergency, when sixty judges were sent home in an overtly extra-constitutional measure, the movement widened its scope to join the political parties in protest. The third phase after the formation of governments in the centre and provinces from April onwards obfuscated the whole situation. Partners of yesterday stood opposite each other. Partners within the coalition spoke with two faces. What will happen now? Will the bar associations be able to mobilise lawyers and the public at large within a few weeks or months? Loss of momentum on June 15 is critical in this respect. People saw no tangible gain after their huge mental and physical input. PPP lawyers are caught between two loyalties. Meanwhile, other issues such as inflation and shortage of food items and electricity are potential competitors when it comes to attracting people?s attention and energies. All this poses a great challenge to the leadership of the legal fraternity in terms of its credibility; and the judges? issue is staring it in the face. Will it or will it not deliver on this count? Will it reconcile with half-way measures such as the provision for 29 judges of the Supreme Court and other ?soft? provisions in the envisioned constitutional package? Will the movement be overtaken by events? Alternatively, do lawyers have other strategies up their sleeve to restore the judges to their rightful positions, and the country to a respectable position in the comity of nations? [Courtesy Dawn]
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:27 PM
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Default SWM ask to improve sanitary conditions in Multan


The Solid Waste Management (SWM) department asked the sanitary inspectors and supervisors to improve sanitation conditions in the city.
The department has directed the sanitation officers to make door-to-door waste collection system successful and submit a report about it till July 10 and said that in case sanitary condition not improved they would be suspended. Meanwhile the EDO (M & S) has suspended a sanitary supervisor Muhammad Akram on charges of poor performance and negligence.
The district officer solid waste management Abdul Shakoor Bhutta visited Union Council No. 22 and found the sanitation conditions very poor along rail track on which the EDO suspended the supervisor. The EDO warned entire supervisory staff to improve their performance otherwise they will be fired. He also directed the sanitation staff to wear uniform during duty hours.
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