In Pakistan, protesters stream into the capital in support of ousted judges
The lawyers' rally comes four months after a general election in which Musharraf's loyalists were swept out of the legislature and the late Mrs. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party formed a shaky coalition government under a hostile Musharraf. The demonstration, which the local media has dubbed an epic sounding "long march," started in the port city of Karachi on the Arabian Sea and reached the capital, almost 1,000 miles to the north in the foothills of the Himalayas, after five days. The motor caravan pulled in several thousand people en route despite summer temperatures that reached 120 degrees F. at some points. Local media estimated at least 50,000 demonstrators were entering Islamabad on Friday afternoon.
"Not many in the movement like to talk about this, but there is some fatigue setting in with the lawyers now," says Babar Sattar, a practicing lawyer who has been involved with the movement. "But the at the same time, there is a much stronger presence of civil society and political parties."
The lawyers, who are now in the 15th month of street protests, says Mr. Sattar, are coming to realize that street agitation alone will not be enough to bring about long-term change. "The backing of political parties is important, because this movement needs to have a political strategy and support."
The march, a red carpet of sorts for the "who's who" in the anti-Musharraf camp in Pakistan, is being led by lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, once a close aide to Bhutto. It also includes ex-military personnel, activists, and working professionals from secular civil society groups, political opposition leaders – including Islamists – and even Mr. Sharif. Sharif, the man Musharraf overthrew to first come to power almost eight years ago, returned to sweep large section of the country in the election earlier this year and has been pressuring his coalition partner, Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, to take concrete steps to reinstate the judges. "President Musharraf is too weak to play any role – he is already on his way out," Mr. Ahsan said in an address during the long march. "It is parliament which will have to play its role now."