If the Long March started in undue haste, its end was equally startling. Anti-Musharraf politicians in general and Aitzaz Ahsan in particular had been threatening with Long March ever since the CJ was axed along with sixty other judges of the superior courts by Musharraf through his notorious PCO on November 3. The slogans for the restoration of the deposed judges, as they are better known, slowed down for a while after the February 18 elections because the lawyers and their supporters hoped that the newly-formed coalition of PPP and PML-N would resolve this matter soon through legal means. Their hopes multiplied when both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari signed the Bhurban Accord on March 9, 2008. Although both parties repeatedly affirmed their commitment with the cause, the developments that took place after signing the Bhurban Accord demonstrated that the issue of restoring the deposed judges, particularly CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry, was doomed to be dumped in the bin of history forever. This prompted PML-N ministers to resign from their cabinet positions in the federal government when the second deadline of May 12, after the first deadline of April 30, was allowed to lapse by the PPP. After his meetings with Zardari in Dubai and London, Sharif appeared to have come to the conclusion that the former was not at all serious in restoring the deposed chief justice. Therefore, he embarked upon distancing his party from the coalition to avoid the blame. Apparently, Zardari used PML-N only to land his party in the federal government without joining hands with pro-Musharraf parties to save himself from criticism. Once that objective was achieved, the PPP co-chairman started parleys with JUI-F, MQM and the erstwhile elements of the PML-Q with the result that the colour and the creed of the coalition stood baptised in Musharraf's bath in less than sixty days of PPP's coming into power. The reshaped coalition comprising PPP, ANP, JUI-F and MQM, with the PML-Q waiting in the wings, seems fully determined not only to defend Musharraf's presidency but also to block the restoration of the deposed judges. As a reciprocal measure, Musharraf purified PPP's co-chairman of all his criminal and corruption cases through the infamous NRO. There is a growing realisation not only in the PML-N camp but also in the legal fraternity that Zardari's unwritten bond with Musharraf is too strong to break. It is for this reason that though PML-N continues to be a part of the coalition, practically it is already out of it since May 12. Sharif's passionate support for the lawyers' Long March, therefore, was a deliberate effort on his part to regain his lost ground for joining hands with Zardari in the aftermath of the February 18 elections. Aitzaz's call for the Long March on the other hand was influenced by extraneous factors. He gave his sudden call in response to PPP's constitutional package which everyone believed was prepared in undue haste to save Musharraf's presidency and to plonk the deposed judges' issue. The PPP's strategy on the judges' issue is to reinstate the deposed judges without restoring their judicial powers. It is with this motive that the government has made provision in the federal budget for payment of their salaries. In other words, the deposed judges will be treated as judges only for the purposes of their salaries. For all other practical purposes, they will remain non-functional until they retire or resign. The PPP has made it clear that the judges can be restored only through its constitutional package. The fate of this package hangs in the balance because of PML-N's serious reservations on most of its clauses. Even if their objections are removed, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to assail the package through the parliament until March 2009. As such, Nawaz Sharif has apparently reconciled with the reality that there is no likelihood of the chief justice and the deposed judges resuming their judicial offices in the future. The Friday's Long March was a big show of street power by anti-Musharraf parties in general and the PML-N in particular. The credit for its successful and peaceful holding goes both to the lawyers and the Islamabad administration. Although Rehman Malik underestimated the crowd at 20,000 or 30,000 and Aitzaz overestimated it at 500,000 the number of those present in the parade ground was stated by independent observers to be more than 200,000. This estimate appears to be correct as the figures provided by the intelligence agencies to the high-ups are routinely reduced to ten percent of the gatherings. Irrespective of claims and counter-claims by the parties, the march wrote a new chapter as far people's awareness of their rights is concerned. Whether or not the march was successful in terms of achieving its goals is an entirely different story. The first and the foremost objective of the Long March was to restore the deposed judges to the position of November 2. Aitzaz had repeatedly vowed that the final destination of the Long March would be the President's Lodge in Rawalpindi and that the lawyers would stage a sit-in there in support of their demand. However, he changed his stance before the lawyers' caravans actually started their journey on June 9 from Quetta and Karachi. Aitzaz's new stance was that they would decide about the sit-in after reaching their destination which was not the army house but the parliament. Therefore, there was strong resentment against him when he abruptly announced to end the march in the wee hours of June 14, 2008. Although Aitzaz gave financial constraints as the reason for his decision, Kurd's absence from the final scene coupled with Sharif's hint in his speech to end the Long March make it manifestly clear that the top leaders of the march had either been given an assurance by Zardari to restore the judges in the near future or they were told by the powerful circles not to prolong their show. PML-N legislator Haneef Abbasi has also tried to pacify his supporters by claiming that an impeachment resolution against Musharraf will soon be tabled in the parliament. The fate of such a resolution, if at all it is tabled, is unlikely to be much different from the Long March. The writer is a practising solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales