Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
With hindsight, it seems clear that a mass movement named after Mao’s Long March but also claiming Gandhi’s principles of non-violence risked disappointing its supporters. The failure of the Long March by Pakistan’s lawyers to restore judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf, and its dispersal last Saturday, has prompted much debate about why its leaders gave up without at least staging a sit-in.
Defence analyst Ikram Sehgal called the Long March a logistical success in its ability to garner mass support without violence, but a tactical failure. “The tactical failure of this long-lasting tremendous effort founded on great principles has become a strategic disaster for Musharraf’s opponents,” he writes in The News. “About Pervez Musharraf, ‘with such friends who needs enemies’, one can paraphrase the saying for him: ‘With such enemies why does he need friends?’”
The blog All Things Pakistan says supporters of the Long March “are justifiably feeling let down by the grand posturing, thundering rhetoric and the subsequent retreat from agitation”. But it adds: “The lawyers’ movement is profoundly significant. It constitutes the finest historical ‘moment’ in our troubled history.”
Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of the lawyers’ movement, writes in Newsweek that the Long March was “an act of collective and nonviolent defiance perhaps unrivaled in Pakistan’s checkered history”.