March 26, Dawn photo of a few of the 850 vehicles parked public transport vehicles that were commandeered to carry the ‘rent-a-crowd’ prior to Musharraf’s rally at Rawalpindi.
It’s amazing what levels members of the regime will stoop to defend their now precarious hold on power.
Here are two examples:
1. Musharraf’s “my-rally-is-bigger-than-yours” held last week at Rawalpindi.
Not only did the regime declare a local holiday on the day of the General's rally but it also ordered all teachers at Government schools and colleges, and other civil servants to attend the gathering.
This is Time magazine's take on it.
The government has directed teachers, professors and civil servants to attend, and commanded district and village leaders to bring anywhere from 100 to 1000 people from their towns to the rally. In order to transport these less-than-fervent fans, hundreds of buses, vans and mini-buses have been commandeered from transport operators across the region since Sunday, and parked throughout the capital. The government has promised to compensate drivers for the use of their vehicles, offering 2000 rupees, or $35 in addition to fuel, but that may not be enough to convince them. Drivers point out that their vehicles will be off the road for two or three days, and on good routes, operators make around $45 a day. So just to be certain, drivers' documents were retained to ensure that they show up to work on the day of the rally.
Still, some canny drivers have stayed off the roads altogether, preferring to take a few days off over the hassle of trying to get cash out of the government. The result has been chaos for the tens of thousands in the capital area who depend on public transportation to get to work or school. Taxis have doubled their prices, and the roads around Rawalpindi and Islamabad are full of resigned commuters trudging to their destinations on foot.
Today's rally may be important for Musharraf's eventual re-election campaign, but once again he is alienating the very people he should be courting. In consideration of the transport difficulties, the city government of Rawalpindi has declared today a holiday. Of course, what's the point of a holiday if you can't get anywhere. Then again, that may be exactly the government's point: all the more reason, after all, for residents to attend the rally.
2. Sending of Fake Lawyers
Yesterday when some ‘moderate and enlightened’ members of the regime sent their supporters - falsely dressed in lawyer garb – to shout out pro-Musharraf slogans in front of the Supreme Court, they were delivered an unexpectedly brutal comeuppance.
This is what The Nation reported on this bizarre episode:
With President Musharraf monitoring the things at micro level, another wrong move by some government supporters from Punjab resulted in an embarrassing situation when they, disguising as lawyers, were nabbed and beaten by the SC Bar representatives while chanting slogans in favour of the President.
Chaudhry Khalid Guraal, MPA and Parliamentary Secretary Punjab Assembly brought 40-50 lawyers from Gujrat in support of President Musharraf in the SC premises, almost out of bound for many on the day of hearing the presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Majority of the Musharraf’s supporters were reportedly fake lawyers brought by the MPA. Some of them found to have fake licenses to prove their identity.
SC lawyers claimed that, this bunch of 40-50 impersonating lawyers were in fact villagers belonging to Gujrat, the home town of Ch Pervez Ellahi, the Chief Minister of Punjab and PML President Chaudhry Shujat Hussain.
When they were chanting slogans inside the SC premises in favour of the President, some protesting lawyers outside the premises recognized some of them, forced their way inside and started beating them.
Qari Iftikhar (ex-Qari Punjab Assembly) was the most conspicuous among this ‘fake’ bunch recognized and thrashed by the SC lawyers.
Undoubtedly there will more similar acts of ‘spectacular’ brilliance over the coming days. Watch this space!