They dared the General

Published : Dec 07, 2007 00:00 IST

Some of the lawyers and politicians who were arrested for leading the anti-Musharraf campaign.


Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhary: Sacked from the Supreme Court and under house arrest in Islamabad, as are 11 other judges of the court who did not take the oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). The approach to his villa in Judges Enclave, a hillock with a scenic view of the Marghalla hills, has been blocked with barricades and barbed wire. Chaudhary can still communicate with the outside world and has sporadically sent out messages to the legal community to resist the emergency and boycott the judges who have taken the oath under the PCO.


Aitzaz Ahsan: In solitary confinement at Adiala jail, Rawalpindi. A Cambridge-educated lawyer, he headed the legal battle mounted by Iftikhar Chaudhary against his March 9 suspension. He became Chaudharys charioteer by driving him across the length and breadth of the country, from one bar association to another, ostensibly to participate in some jubilee or other but actually to rally the legal community against President Pervez Musharraf.

A gifted speaker, in court he bullied the judges, massaged their egos and cajoled them by turn, referring to Musharraf as an usurper and asking them to stand behind their Chief Justice. Outside, he held fiery press conferences at which he predicted that the President was running on empty.

He is a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, but tensions between him and party leader Benazir Bhutto are well known. Ahsan opposed Benazirs deal with Musharraf and the resulting National Reconciliation Ordinance, which swept out the corruption cases against her in return for the PPPs tacit support to Musharraf in the presidential election. He was elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association a week before the imposition of the emergency and was among the first to be arrested.

Munir Malik: The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association during the lawyers agitation for Chaudharys reinstatement, which was achieved on July 20. Malik then declared that the legal fraternity would continue the struggle, this time to oust Musharraf. Bring back constitutionalism and the rule of law was Maliks mantra as he mobilised bar associations between March and July.

Ali Ahmed Kurd: A lawyer from Balochistan, he is the only one to be taken into custody by military intelligence. His whereabouts are not known and some reports say he is being held in a guest house outside Islamabad. A firebrand orator, he invited the wrath of the military when he attacked it and Musharraf at a function held at the Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium in May. His Baloch identity did not help his case.

Tariq Mehmood: Now in jail. A retired judge and a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, he was part of the team that mounted the legal battle for Chief Justice Chaudhary. He was one of the pillars of the agitation, first for Chaudhary and later against Musharraf. He was associated, directly or indirectly, with each one of the petitions against Musharraf contesting the presidential election.

Asma Jahangir: Has been freed from house arrest. chairperson of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and a Supreme Court lawyer, she is known internationally for her three-decades of struggle against injustices in Pakistan against women, children and members of minority communities.

Jahangirs battle on behalf of the people who have disappeared since 2001, allegedly after being picked up by intelligence agencies as terror suspects, has been a finger in the governments eye. She praised Musharraf for bringing changes to the draconian Hudood laws, which inflicted misery on thousands of women, but said the changes were insufficient.


Javed Hashmi: The acting president of Nawaz Sharifs Pakistan Muslim League (N), Hashmi seemed never too far away from arrest. In August, in one of his first anti-Musharraf judgments after being reinstated, Iftikhar Chaudhary freed Hashmi, who had been behind bars since 2003, convicted of treason for trying to incite a mutiny in the Pakistan Army.

His release gave the PML(N) some leadership in the absence of the exiled Nawaz Sharif. Jail did not mellow this parliamentarian. In his very first speech on the floor of the National Assembly after his release, he lashed out at the military for being involved in politics.

In the months since then, Hashmi was in and out of jail as police cracked down on political activists.

Imran Khan: The former cricketer and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf escaped house arrest in Lahore Robin Hood style, by scaling two in his reckoning 10-foot-high walls. But he was captured by the police 10 days later when he emerged from hiding to lead a students rally at the Punjab University campus.

Students of the Islami Jamiat-e-Taliba (IJT), the youth wing of Imrans apparent ally, the Jamaat-i-Islami, herded him into a building on campus, locked him up, and handed him to the police.

It was an abrupt end to his attempt to mobilise students against the regime, but his arrest could actually help him gain a constituency among the youth who are angry with the IJT for helping the regime.

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