The inevitable Long March to Islamabad is on its way. Setting off from all corners of the country, the participants gathered in Lahore on June 11-12 to converge on the federal capital in pursuit of having the judiciary reinstated to its pre-November 3 position. Going by the rapturous reception accorded to the participants all along the route, the organisers of the Long March can already bask in the glory of a cause that has spontaneous national support behind it. In spite of the devious and Machiavellian efforts of dividing the legal fraternity, spearheaded by none other than that fake champion of democracy in the country, the PPP, with active support from the proponents of the dictator and the fast disappearing battalion of his servile apologists, the Long March has not only taken off to a propitious start, it appears to be on course to making the final dent in the fast crumbling edifice of despotism in the country. The efforts to have the Long March aborted have not waned. The Finance Bill presented in the National Assembly included a provision for 29 Supreme Court judges. This may be an expression of intent to having the "non-functional" judges of the Supreme Court restored to their benches together with the PCOed ones, but it is only that and no more. In an environment already vitiated by the breaking of solemn pledges, it is not even worth the paper it is written on. There is also the case of the other over fifty judges who are awaiting reinstatement. Where is the provision for them and how are they going to be taken care of? Why has the PPP opted for taking such circuitous route to doing a simple thing like reinstating the judges who had been removed through a self-acknowledged unconstitutional act? Coming so quickly on the heels of the resoundingly rejected constitutional package, this expression of intent has the making of another ruse to gain time by the PPP and its cronies by way of sanctifying the fruits of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). The PML-N act is also becoming difficult to comprehend. Sustaining the cohorts of dictatorship could be as damaging as being the dictator. Because of its repeated exhortations to continue extending support to the PPP-led government in spite of the latter's having reneged on a written pledge regarding the reinstatement of the judiciary and its insistence on taking a course that is at a tangent to that of the PML-N, its own position is becoming increasingly untenable. May be it is the fear of its government in the Punjab, or the prospect of the PPP plunging into the lap of the PML-Q and the MQM, or a combination of both, that is keeping the PML-N from a clean and clinical dissociation with the anti-democracy and anti-judiciary agenda of the PPP. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that this duality of sustaining an anti-democracy party that, in turn, is sustaining Musharraf in power, would not remain lost on the people and it may tarnish an otherwise credible image of the party in the long run. The lawyers' community is writing a different kind of chapter in the chequered history of this country. Not that the past of the judiciary is any more credible than that of the political forces or other institutions of the state. Not that they did not falter in a sequence of ill-advised decisions that perpetuated dictatorship in the country. Not that they did not cooperate with military despots who came charging in from time to time. They did all that. In fact, they did more than that. They sanctified dictatorship itself and indemnified its perpetrators from being punished according to the provisions of the constitution. They provided the very rationale for various adventurists to keep striking and plunging the country into a bottomless pit. Therefore, what is so different about the present lot of people that has embarked on a journey to transform the fate of a country? One distinctive feature that stands them apart from their not-so-honourable peers is their consummate and unflinching commitment to a cause that they espouse as their own: the cause of democracy and the rule of law. What they are fighting for is not just a cosmetic change, but a paradigm shift in the way we may think, act and respond. After all, it was only a "no" said to a dictator that spurred the movement in the first place. The pregnant contours of that refusal have been so evident throughout the struggle waged by the legal fraternity as their opponent was no ordinary mortal, but a well-entrenched military ruler this country has nurtured as well as a vast and corrupt ensemble of his sycophants and apologists. The courage so bravely and so repeatedly displayed by the legal community in confronting the demonic unleashing of brutal state apparatus has not only atoned for a controversial past, it has warmed the hearts of a whole nation and transformed it into a battling unit that is determined to throw off the yoke of dictatorship and usher in an era of constitutionality and rule of law. It is a bunch of inspired individuals perpetually consumed by the fire to see the dawn of justice in the country. The indomitable Aitzaz Ahsan was only partly right when he said that the movement is not for the ouster of General Musharraf as he has already lost his support base and is fast receding into becoming a relic of history, but to provoke the oft-claimed sovereignty of the parliament to act in support of a just cause by restoring the judiciary to its pre-November 3 position. In fact, the Long March has become a movement for the complete ouster of dictatorship and the banishment of all its cohorts, manifestations and vestiges. The goons of dictatorship are still active to subvert the democratic aspirations of the people. Their latest move to coerce the PTV to give increased coverage to General Musharraf and the pressure that is being exerted on a foreign government to terminate the broadcasting rights of a leading television channel provide enough proof of their continuing machinations to frustrate the burgeoning aspirations for democracy. Change is in the air. The swarming and charged people, knocking at the threshold of Rawalpindi/Islamabad, are laden with abounding zest and relentless energy to sensitise the parliament to its supreme task of responding to the historic verdict of February 18 and initiate steps to decisively oust the remnants of dictatorship together with undoing all unconstitutional acts of a ruler in military uniform. At this historic juncture in our history, anything short of that would be a renunciation of the enshrining principles on which rests this unprecedented surge for a revolutionary change. E-mail: