‘Long March’ begins in Lahore; Nawaz Sharif defies house arrest orders; Gilani and Kayani meet to discuss the situation; US, and UK make diplomatic efforts to help broker a compromise
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  • 9-15 March 2009

    Amidst mounting political crisis, the controversial ‘Long March’ finally began in Lahore on March 15. PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, defying his house arrest orders, took part in the march which was made up of lawyers, members of the civil society and party activists.1 Reports however noted that Prime Minister Gilani had asked the Interior Ministry to ensure that Sharif got adequate security.2

    Reports pointed out that President Zardari was contemplating a ‘package deal’ to address some of the major grievances of Mr. Sharif on the issue of judges and on the Supreme Court verdict on the Sharif brothers which debarred them from contesting elections. Mr. Zardari’s moves were supported by the Pakistan army establishment as well as by the US.3

    Army chief Gen. Kayani had met Prime Minister Gilani on March 11 in a bid to defuse the crisis situation in the country.4 PM Gilani also had a meeting with the Governor of Punjab on March 12 to discuss the situation in Punjab arising out of governor’s rule.5

    Reports also talked about the mediation efforts launched by the United States and Britain to end the confrontation between Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif. Richard Holbrooke, US Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, for instance spoke to the Pakistan President, Prime Minister and Mr. Sharif to broker a compromise.6

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