LAHORE - Despite the overwhelming crackdown on lawyers, political activists, traders and representatives of the civil society, the spirit of all stakeholders in the protest march is very high. The long march to Islamabad, kick-starting from Karachi on March 12 (today) will climax into dharna at federal capital on March 16 till restoration of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other deposed judges. The way the authorities concerned have started operating against the march participants leads one to think as if the long march proceedings have been kicked off a day earlier even by the government itself by means of galvanizing the lawyers and others through arrests etc. and inviting attention of the world media to it. As part of its strategy, the front line leadership of the lawyers has gone underground to escape arrest and detention, however a large number of lawyers in the city are still in the public-speaking exercise against the measures of section 144 and the police crackdown. Given the imposition of Section of 144 in Punjab and Sindh and the strict orders by the Ministry of Interior to the administration of other two provinces to nip the march to Islamabad and hold the marchers back by any means, the plan originally prepared by legal fraternity about the D-day has been modified to keep their protest unrestricted. Tension is rising high after the Punjab and Sindh administration put their foot down to stop the marchers from moving toward federal capital as well as lawyers and political community from supporting the cause of judges restoration. The stakeholders have announced to defy all restrictions and execute their protest as per plan which has been divided into three tiers. Leadership of the lawyers is not ready to let the police lay hand on them therefore it has preferred hibernation to ensure their participation in the protest march from city on March 15. Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, Ahmed Awais, Hamid Khan, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Ansari, Anwar Kamal, Munawar Iqbal Gondal, Rana Asadullah Khan, Amin Javed Chaudhary, Shafqat Mahmood Chauhan, Khwaja Mahmood Ahmad, Wali Muhammad Khan, among hundreds others in the city are circumspect about the situation. Apprehending arrest, they spent night on March 10 at some undisclosed places but most of them were present in the High Court on Wednesday fuelling spirit of lawyers. Entire leadership of the lawyers all over the country is acting very cautiously and carefully not to fall into the trap of the authorities before the big show, however the leaders at the same time, want the community to stay in high spirit without bowing to the restrictive steps. As first step of their drive, the lawyers blatantly violated section 144 restrictions outside Aiwan-e-Adl and at GPO chowk outside the Lahore High Court Bar premises last day. Though a highly serious risk of facing police torture and arrests, they are committed to take out Thursday rally all over the country. And if allowed, the rallies are certain to reinforce their enthusiasm for going ahead with long march that has to resume from the City on mid-March. Lawyers leadership says, they strongly apprehended action on them but they were committed to carry out the march. Lawyers in the Lahore High Court Bar as well as the Lahore Bar Association strongly condemned the restrictive action. Beset by agencies persons and the police in civvies, lawyers chanted loud slogans in support of Justice Chaudhry, to show their commitment to stage dharna against the rulers. PPP lawyers have splintered on long march and dharna. The section standing aloof of the protest, regards it as a political move by the PML(N) leadership to avenge their disqualification and create a void for the third force to enter. The other section is whole-heartedly with the judges' cause and maintains, the crackdown is not in line with the majority view of the PPP leadership but from an individual. They wonder how the Prime Minister could order imposition of section 144 and crackdown when some days back he himself had supported the lawyers protest after strongly siding with the lawyers on the judges restoration before and after coming into the office. The first long march for the cause of independent judiciary was held on June 14 last when hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country moved to Islamabad and ended up at the Constitution Avenue, however short of holding dharna. Last time, General Pervez Musharraf was in the President's House and PML(N) government in Punjab which both factored in giving a respectable visage to the march as person at the top slot was a common target of the PPP and the PML(N). Ironically PPP top man Asif Ali Zardari is the President at present by virtue of shahadat of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto who always voiced for the restoration of deposed judges, but those struggling for making good her dream, are being served harsh treatment. In observers view, lawyers over the last two years' protest, have been completely peaceful and non-violent but the present hard treatment from the authorities has given a new rearrangement to this equation. Constitutionally speaking, peaceful protest is a fundamental right and what unrest and disquiet the authorities had perceived to put in restrictions is yet not fully clear. In their view, protest march and dharna in fact is also a test of the patience and nerves of the lawyers and others but before putting them in that situation, the authorities are themselves demonstrating extreme frustration and are launching punitive action against them. They say every body particularly the government side says, the country is facing a seriously difficult situation. And if it was the situation, why does not the government use restoration of deposed judges a means to redress it instead of aggravating it by lingering on it to let it take serious turn.