Shockwaves were felt across the country as the Supreme Court (SC) announced its verdict against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Workers from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took to the streets in protest in Islamabad and throughout the ruling party’s constituencies on Thursday.
Led by local leadership, PPP workers in Islamabad staged a protest against Gilani’s conviction near Parade Avenue, forcing the SC judges to remain in their chambers due to security concerns. According to police officials, the judges were confined in their chambers till 7pm, after which they were cleared by security. A few charged protesters, including PPP women’s wing member and MPA Nargis Faiz Malik, attempted to march towards the judges’ colony. Their attempt was stopped by riot police, however.
The fallout in Karachi was higher in intensity as PPP activists forcibly shut down shops in several business centres around the city. Similar scenes were also reported in Sukkur, Jacobabad and Khairpur. In contrast, the reaction in Larkana, a PPP stronghold, was lukewarm at best as PPP activists failed to enforce a shutter-down.
Perhaps the most extreme response was reported from Hyderabad. The president of Sindh People Students Federation (SPSF), Lala Rizwan Mughal announced that more than a hundred SPSF workers intended to immolate themselves on Friday.
“We will be forced to take this step if the Supreme Court does not review its judgment within 24 hours,” Mughal said at a press conference. Accusing Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry of singling out PPP, he said “we silenced ourselves after the martyrdom of Shaheed Benazir, but we are being forced to raise the slogan of ‘subaiyat’ (provincialism) again.”
The response to the PM’s conviction in Multan was unexpected, however. Owing to Gilani’s familial connections to the city, it was expected to bear the brunt of any fallout from the SC’s verdict. Protests by PPP activists were minimal throughout the city. In contrast, the lawyers rally in support of the judiciary at the Multan high court bar recorded a much stronger attendance.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.
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