The Lawyers’ Movement initially began as a result of the actions taken by General Musharraf on 9th March, 2007. Musharraf, after getting intelligence that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was conspiring with Nawaz Sharif to overthrow the government called for a meeting and asking him to resign or face “charges of misconduct”. The Chief Justice refused to resign and preferred to defend the charges. Within two months the movement took the path of Color Revolution, getting enormous funds from USA and other countries with the main aim of destabilizing Pakistan and forcing Musharraf out of office. The organization and publicity of the entire campaign is calculated to have cost around Rs 30 billion. How much did this cost Pakistan? There is no work done, however, a good estimate would be around US$ 100 billion.
Although the movement was jump started by Nawaz Sharif, on the way it became the main vehicle for USA to remove Musharraf who was not going for US backed Central Asian pipelines but leaning towards China. Bush Administration was convinced by Dick Cheney that if Musharraf stays in power China will get the Central Asian fuels. After Dick Cheney’s February 2007 visit of Islamabad and Kabul CIA starts working with RAW in Afghanistan to arm the suicide bombers and militants in the Red Mosque in Islamabad as the first phase. The process takes nearly a month during which time in a separate incident Musharraf dismisses the Chief Justice. Seeing the Lawyers Movement as a better vehicle, the American and Indian efforts turn from Red Mosque to the movement.
Another aspect of ousting Musharraf was his decision to clamp down on the drug trade through Pakistan. This would have affected above all, Ahmad Wali Karzai (younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai) who earns an annual profit of US$ 1 billion (10% of total Afghan drug money), CIA’s black operations wing and its related US personnel. Thus it was the personal agenda of many in Bush Administration and Pakistan and Afghanistan’s US Embassies to get Musharraf out before he puts a stop to the highly lucrative drug trade.
Why Dick Cheney?
Early 2007 Musharraf had decided not to go for Unocal (now Chevron Corporation) and Halliburton backed Central Asian pipeline which would have cost Vice President Dick Cheney great sums of money. Thus a personal agenda was turned into a revolution. He tried all in his power to get Musharraf out within the tenure of his Vice Presidency and get Pakistani Government’s approval for the billions of dollars worth Central Asian pipeline to be built by Unocal and Halliburon.
Timeline of Lawyers’ Movement
30 Jun 2005: Mr Chaudhry is appointed chief justice, makes a speech talking of a “serious crisis of confidence between the people and the judiciary”.
March 2005: the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) tries to acquire Unocal with a bid that valued Unocal at between $16 billion and $18 billion. Following a vote in the United States House of Representatives, the bid was referred to President George Bush, on the grounds that its implications for national security needed to be reviewed. CNOOC withdrew its bid. Soon after, Unocal merged with Chevron.
18 Jul 2005: The Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, known also as the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, refers to a bilateral accord on civil nuclear cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of India.
23 Jun 2006: Supreme Court of Pakistan stops privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills.
26 Feb 2007: Dick Cheney visits Pakistan for few hours . Mr. Cheney traveled with the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Steve Kappes. Just hours after Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a stiff private message to President Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, the Pakistani government lashed out with a series of statements insisting that “Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source”.
9 Mar 2007: Musharraf removes Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, after the agencies find sufficient proof that he was conspiring with Nawaz Sharif against the government. Nawaz Sharif had promised to make him the President of Pakistan once he becomes the PM.
12 Mar 2007: Lawyers begin boycott of court cases and protests in support of Mr Chaudhry. Nawaz Sharif pumps millions of his own dollars into the lawyers protests. A major portion of this booty goes to Munir A. Malik and Aitzaz Ahsan as their “consultation fee”.
13 Mar 2007: Mr Chaudhry appears before a closed hearing of senior judges to answer allegations against him.
15 Mar 2007: An accute shortage of black colored jackets and coats appear throughout the country. Prices of black colored cloths and coats sky rocket because of the demand. (The Reason: Thousands of people are buying black coats which represent lawyers uniform ahead of the protests in the country).
16 Mar 2007: Violence breaks out at Islamabad rally in support of Mr Chaudhry.
27 Mar 2007: President Musharraf tells rally in Rawalpindi that no one will be allowed to politically exploit Mr Chaudhry’s suspension.
27 Mar 2007: Burqa-clad female students from the mosque’s Jamia Hafsa school abduct three women they accuse of running a brothel. The women are released after they “repent”.
30 Mar 2007: Authorities shut down an illegal FM radio station set up by the students and hardline clerics to propagate their strict version of Islam.
18 May 2007: Red Mosque students seize four policemen and demand that authorities release 11 comrades being held in detention. The four policemen are later freed.
9 Jun 2007: Benazir summoned senior party members to Dubai on 9 June 2007 for a ‘briefing’ by a team from the US Democratic Party’s National Democratic Institute (NDI), ostensibly on the subject of elections in Pakistan. The ruling Republican Party’s International Republican Institute (IRI) had conducted the previous four ‘briefings’ in June and September 2006 and March and April 2007. Benazir leaned towards the Democratic Party in the last one no doubt as a hedge against the party’s possible victory at the forthcoming US Presidential Election.
23 Jun 2007: Students kidnap nine people, including six Chinese women, and accuse them of running a brothel. They are released after about 17 hours.
3 Jul 2007: the stand-off between the students barricaded inside the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) and the government results in bloody gun battles.
8 Jul 2007: The standoff between the Pakistani government and the clerics of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad finally broke down on the morning of 8 July 2007. Government storms the mosque. The government managed to recover 1,300 men, women and children during the operation. Some of these women, who were recovered safely on the last day of the operation, had their written death wishes with them. Six hundred suicide bombers are present in Karachi revealed Qasim Toori and Danish alias Talha during interrogations by law-enforcement agencies. Most of the suicide bombers are also former students of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid.
17 Jul 2007: Assassination attempt is made on Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry however, he escapes.
20 Jul 2007: the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored the Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry with full dignity and authority.
24 Jul 2007: Abdullah Mehsud is killed by Pakistani security forces.
20 Aug 2007: Ifikhar Mohammad threatened Tariq Pervez (the director-general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency) with jail if he did not produce ghost detainee Hafiz Abdul Basit. Chief Justice Chaudhry ordered “He must be produced today or you will be sent to the lock-up.” Under this threat he was released by the intelligence agencies. Hafiz Basit was later implicated by Musharaff government in the assassination of Ms Bhutto.
Sep 2007: Benazir visited the Senate in September 2007, she had convinced the Bush Administration of her unswerving loyalty; for ’she received a standing ovation from a select gathering of US lawmakers, diplomats, academics and media representatives. This contrasted sharply with her previous visits to the US capital when she received little attention.’
Three weeks later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made it appear the Bush Administration wished to bring together ‘moderate’ forces, implying a scenario in which Musharraf and Benazir would join forces as President and Prime Minister respectively; and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte corroborated Rice: ‘Our message’, he intoned, ‘is that we want to work with the government and people of Pakistan’.
18 Oct 2007: An assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto is made (2007 Karachi Bombing) but she survives. President Parvez Gen Musharraf calls the attack on Ms Bhutto’s convoy was a “conspiracy against democracy”(hinting towards the US involvement towards overthrowing the government).
3 Nov 2007: Musharraf imposed state of emergency. Constitution was suspended. Sixty independent judges were dismissed. Intelligence agencies start systematically killing behind the scene key players in the conspiracy to overthrow the government. Some of these include: Zubair Ahmed Mujahid (shot dead 23 Nov).
5 Nov 2007: Police raided the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA). After baton charging and throwing tear gas into the premises, arrested more than 800 lawyers.
In the wake of the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan, on November 14, 2007, the Harvard Law School Association decided to award its highest honour, the Medal of Freedom, to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, following the military crackdown the previous week. He becomes the first Pakistani to be presented with such honour.
The National Law Journal picked Mr. Chaudhry as the lawyer of the year for 2007.
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York granted Iftikhar Chaudhry an honorary membership in the association on Nov. 17, 2008, recognizing him as a “symbol of the movement for judicial and lawyer independence in Pakistan.”
27 Dec 2007: Benazir Bhutto is assassinated while Nawaz Sharif escapes an assassination attempt. The two attempts are very different in nature. Benazir Bhutto is assassinated in a typical CIA style while Nawaz Sharif’s attack was more like a domestic killing. It is obvious that Asif Ali Zardari acted on his own to carry out Nawaz Sharif’s assassination. Following Benazir’s assassination planned riots, looting and chaos errupts simultaneously throughout the country. Within a week the country looses nearly 10 billion dollars.
9 Mar 2008: leaders of political parties Asif Ali Zardari , Pakistan Peoples Party and Nawaz Sharif Pakistan Muslim League signed an agreement to restore the judges within 300 days of formation of national government. Zardari backed out and the coalition failed to restore the judges.
24 Mar 2008: Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered, soon after being elected Prime Minister, that all detained judges be released.
12 Mar 2008: was another deadline for restoring the judges but nothing was done. This was the second commitment the government backed out from after the initial deadline of ‘within 30 days of formation of government’ which ended on 30 April, 2008.
14 Jun 2008: A long march is held by the lawyers.
7 Jul 2008: ISI explodes a bomb outside Indian Embassy in Kabul killing Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta who had coordinated the mayhem in Pakistan in December 2007.
3 Aug 2008: PM Yusuf Raza Gillani visits US.
8 Aug 2008: ruling coalition leaders Sharif and Zardari once more agree to restore Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as the chief justice if Musharraf resigns. But when Musharraf steped down, Zardari backed out of the deal for the third time.
18 Aug 2008: Musharraf resigns.
Foreign investment and funds in the revolution stops at this point.
25 Aug 2008: PML-N leaves the coalition government.
6 Sept 2008: Asif Ali Zardari is elected the President of Pakistan by the parliament.
11 Mar 2009: Several hundred lawyers and opposition party’s political workers and leaders were arrested. Ban was placed on rallies and protests in two of the Pakistan’s four provinces.
12 Mar 2009: Lawyers, political workers and civil society gather in several cities for the Long March to Islamabad. Scuffle with police, hundred of arrests were made, none allowed to leave their cities for Islamabad.
15 Mar 2009: authorities placed Nawaz Shairf, Atizaz Ahsan and many other leaders under house arrest. Shairf broke through the road blocks with his supporters and came out on the roads in Lahore to begin the Long March. This is believed to be the turning point of the movement Thousands of people joined the rally.
Midnight 15/16 March, 2009 government gave when thousands of people moved towards Islamabad lead by Nawaz Sharif. Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry was restored as Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges dismissed by Musharraf.
US and Canadian Involvement
During the Lawyers’ Movement a completely new dimension of indrect involvement of USA in overthrowing a government was seen. The prominent of these were:
33 US Senators wrote to President Musharraf to release Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan immediately.
The US magazine Foreign Policy named Aitzaz Ahsan as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world in May 2008.
In early 2007, Musharraf was extremely popular. According to a US survey, IRI President General Musharraf was more popular in Pakistan than opposition leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Around 37 per cent of the respondents were of the view that Musharraf’s supported PML-Q deserved to be re-elected. However, by August 2007, after the lawyers Judicial Activism started, Musharraf became slightly unpopular in Pakistan due to persistent media efforts and anti-Musharraf talk shows. An International Republican Institute survey, taken of 3000 people, showed that 64 percent of the population did not want another term to be granted to Musharraf as the president of Pakistan.
USAID spent more than US$ 150 million (part of the American fund on terrorism which is “given” to Pakistan) within a year on helpding the movement.
GEO TV which charges Rs. 100,000 per minute of air time showed continued transmissions of upto 30 hours. During the year the channel was spending more money than it showed in its tax returns. The only unaccounted profit was for “Voice of America” show. But whatever GEO TV was getting for airing the show it was enough to turn higher profits than airing aids for 30 hours (=Rs. 180,000,000 or US$ 3 million). And we are taking about this much money every day.
Why was Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) distributing funds during the movement is anybody’s guess?
Impact of Lawyers’ Movement
Pakistan’s economy suffered gravely, government focus shifted from work and economy to non-violent solution for the lawyers. PML-N was already fully involved from the onset, however, other political parties also jumped on the band wagon causing more disruption in daily life. The poorest and daily labourers suffered the most because of strike calls and road blockages.
The real story on the road was that poorest don’t wake up every morning to see Iftikhar Choudhry wearing a black suite, sunglasses, sitting in a new car parading on the streets of Pakistan, the poorest wake up and hope for a better day, a day in which they can increase their earnings and support their family, bring food to the table, they don’t want to see the roads blocked and strikes called which stop them from earning their daily livelihoods.
As the riots and protests were held in the summer months, the intense head resulted in numerous deaths and hospital admissions because of heat exhaustion, nearly all of which were small time lawyers and their family members travelling either on foot or in non-airconditioned cars.
However, the behind the scene aim of ousting Parvez Musharraf was achieved at the end.
Go Musharraf Go
Interestingly enough the salogans along the protests were not anything like “bring back Iftikhar Chaudhry” but they were “Go Musharraf Go, Go Musharraf Go.” The questions need to be answered that if the lawyers really wanted Iftikhar Chaudhry reinstated then why were they continuously chanting “Go Musharraf Go”.
Also, there were sixty judges dismissed however, only one was being paraded around and continuously given coverage and publicity.
Asif Zardari’s friends
Aitzaz Ahsan – earned world-wide fame, became a hero in Pakistan – monetary benefits yet to come
Munir A. Malik – earned tens of millions of dollars
There were some indirect beneficiaries of the entire movement such as:
Or in other words, Losers.
Benazir Bhutto (assassinated 27 December 2007) – she was in for power
Pervez Musharraf – out of office
Syed Hammad Raza (shot dead 14 May 2007) – he was in to get an important political seat
Kenneth Scott Andrew (murdered 8 April 2007) – to get promoted
Zubair Ahmed Mujahid (shot dead 23 Nov) – to get promoted
Dick Cheney – did not get the pipeline deal
Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta (assassinated 7 July 2008) – to get promoted to Major General
Unless you are as cunning and conniving as Munir A. Malik or Aitzaz Ahsan in a high level and stakes conspiracy you are very probable to end up dead. Don’t play for emotions or ego, play for money and you will win.