PAKISTAN president Pervez Musharraf was last night accused of ‘cynical populism’ after he ordered his police to round up thousands of lawyers and hit them with sticks.
Opposition politicians branded the attacks an empty pre-election stunt for the cameras, and pointed out that millions of Pakistani lawyers were not even given a slap.
At the United Nations, an emergency session called to assess the situation unanimously backed a motion urging the General to hit the lawyers “really, really hard”.
Ban ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, said: “Maybe it is a stunt. Who cares? The guy is giving lawyers a right old panning. That can only be good.”
Malik Abdul, 46 a marriage forcer of Lahore, said when he first saw the police beating the crowd he screamed at them to stop, but when he was told that they were lawyers he asked if he could join in.
He said: “Every time I come out of my lawyer’s office I feel like I have been mugged. Death to the devils in pin-stripes.”
However, his friend Imran Saaed, 37, a bearded fundamentalist, was highly critical of the police tactics, saying he never once got a chance to have a crack.
He said: “I went home especially to get my cricket bat, but when I returned I was told only uniform police could hit the lawyers. What kind of country of democracy is this?”
Omar Khan, 34, a westernised liberal, said he was disgusted that Musharraf thought that he could secure his position by attacking members of the legal establishment.
He said: “Anyone can beat a lawyer. We want someone who will put the testicles of every traffic warden in a vice and then squeeze them, a man who will take all our estate agents out into the desert, force them to dig their own graves and then shoot them like dogs. That is a strong man.”