Admittedly, the following news story would get better traction in American media if San Francisco, the site of the American Bar Associations 2007 annual meeting, were substituted for Lahore:
Police stood ready in major cities to act against angry lawyers and succeeded in keeping the protests under control in all cities, except in Lahore, where they baton-charged lawyers breaking through police barricades, causing injuries to 40 and arresting about 25.
Aristotle divided the world of poetry into the comic, the tragic and the epic. Here in America, lawyers, whenever they gather in large groups, show a strong preference for the comic. The ABAs House of Delegates, for example, is reliably good for a laugh, although its the same joke every year: the cosmic disparity between the delegates self-importance and the utter indifference of everybody else in the world.
In Pakistan, however, its not yet certain if were in the midst of a tragedy or an epic. The Sydney Morning Herald has a striking photo of tear-gassed suited lawyers bathing their eyes in a public fountain, dating from yesterdays second day of rioting. The Morning Herald also provides some much-needed background for those of us coming late to the story:
The second day of clashes between police and lawyers on Saturday over the suspension of Iftikhar Chaudhary on March 9 prompted the President, Pervez Musharraf, to say conspirators were stirring up trouble.
The attempt to get rid of Justice Chaudhary has united disparate opposition parties against the President.
Justice Chaudharys suspension fuelled suspicions that General Musharraf feared the independent-minded judge would oppose any move by him to retain his role as army chief, which constitutionally the President should relinquish this year.
Pakistans English-language paper Dawn is all over the story, with at least six articles in todays edition. Bloggers have picked it up, with Swaraaj Chauhan at The Moderate Voice providing an overview and a link to an extremely useful, short background article from the South Asia Analysis Group. It should not be surprising that the story intertwines at least three familiar Pakistani themes: corruption; military dominance of government; and CIA / al Qaeda. A long list of possible explanations – politics is not simple in Pakistan – is offered at Chowrangi.
Mayank Austen Soofi at Blogcritics tells President Musharraf how he can still save the situation. (I like the name of Soofis own blog, Ruined by Reading, and can recommend his compilation of sex tips from Jane Austen.) (Come to think of it, isnt "Austen" an unusual middle name in New Dehli?) And speaking of unusual names, Teeth Maestro lays it all out in a single breathless sentence:
There is no doubt in any ones mind that Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was corrupt to some degree, and the all mighty and powerful (read Musharraf) actually believed that taking him out would have been an easy walk in the park, it would not be any more difficult then the coop he served up to roust the Pakistani hero Abdul Qadeer Khan, Musharraf I felt honestly believed if he could get away with Qadeer, Iftikhar was going to be more like easy play dead dogie style rampage.
"So," the Maestro adds, "he took a swipe at the Supreme Court." My personal feeling is that Musharraf honestly believed it was going to be like easy play dead dogie style rampage, hes getting what he deserved.
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