In the white glare of a hot summer’s noon, the broad avenues of Islamabad, Pakistan’s modern capital, are usually empty. But on a sweltering day this May the streets were crowded with noisily chanting protesters, all of them demonstrating against the military government of President Pervez Musharraf. Three separate protests were under way. Each one represented a slightly different vision of the future that Pakistan might have if—as now seems more likely than ever—Musharraf’s government were to fall.
The largest crowd by far was made up of lawyers in starched collars, white shirts, and black suits. They marched in orderly ranks, three abreast, like emperor penguins in a nature film. Some held up very British-looking umbrellas, on which markedly un-catchy slogans, such as “Long Live Lawyers Unity,” had been carefully daubed in white paint. In earlier demonstrations, the lawyers had clashed with riot police, and the country’s most senior barristers, silk ties flying, had responded with surprising vigor, hurling back tear-gas cannisters at staff-wielding policemen and jabbing at them with furled umbrellas.
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